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Orlando woman surviving lung cancer is example of national trend

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Jacquee Wahler is a typical mom of two who tries to stay active and eat healthy, so when she heard the words, “you have lung cancer,” seven years ago after returning from a business trip she had lots of unanswered questions.

“There was no family history. I didn't necessarily fall into the main categories. And so no, there was no screening," Wahler recently told WMFE.

Patient Jacquee Wahler headshot
“There was no family history," AdventHealth patient Jacquee Wahler told WMFE in a recent interview. She was diagnosed in 2016 and is now cancer free.

According to Wahler’s doctor, Dr. Mark Socinski, thoracic medical oncologist and the medical director of the AdventHealth Cancer Institute, she had an EGFR mutation, but with some luck and good timing, the AdventHealth team made an early diagnosis and began discussing treatment options. A month later, she turned 50 and had lung resection surgery.

“My heart is filled with gratitude for the fact that they caught this…It was truly a blessing,” Wahler said.

Now 56, Wahler is an example of a rising national trend. Research published recently in the journal JAMA Oncology found that more women ages 35 to 54 had been diagnosed with lung cancer at a higher rate than similarly aged men. Dr. Socinski has noticed this trend of younger patients in his office over the last 30 years and thinks the recommendations leave out a misunderstood group of people: nonsmokers.

"Smoking isn't destined to give you lung cancer. Most people who smoke don't get lung cancer. And the question is, why do some people have susceptibility issues? We don't really understand it that well,” Socinski said.

Socinski hopes in time, guidelines on who should be screened will change, just like our understanding of cancer has changed as more evidence surfaces. He does say lung cancer, “is not one size fits all.”

Learn more about Wahler’s personal lung cancer journey to being cancer free for seven years, discover new treatment options at AdventHealth and learn why Dr. Socinski says this is not just treatable – it’s curable.

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