Dr. Benjamin Haithcock of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery was featured in a television interview about minorities and treatment of lung cancer. The interview was broadcast on WNCN TV (NBC 17, Raleigh) on Nov. 16, 2008.

Knowing Options May Prevent Deaths From Lung Cancer

By Julie Henry

©NBC-17 TV, Raleigh

Nov. 16, 2008

At just 40 years old and an avid runner, Glenda Frazier hardly fits the picture of a lung cancer patient.

But last spring, a spot on her lung brought her from her home at Fort Bragg to see a doctor at UNC’s cancer center.

“He said, ‘We’ll go in, I’ll biopsy it while you’re asleep’… amazing!” said Frazier. ” ‘If it’s cancerous, we’ll go ahead and take it out and remove it.’ “

Thoracic surgeon Dr. Benjamin Haithcock confirmed it was cancer and did a minimally invasive procedure to remove the lower lobe of Frazier’s left lung.

Frazier didn’t have any follow-up chemotherapy or radiation. She was lucky because she was diagnosed early, but also because she got the right treatment. Haithcock says she’s an exception to the rule. He believes too many people, especially African Americans, don’t try to seek specialized care or learn about treatment options that could save their lives.

“I think there is a reluctance to have an operation, I think there is a reluctance to see any kind of surgeon,” said Haithcock. “And I think there is still that reluctance, especially in elderly African Americans, of just going to a physician.”

Haithcock says more blacks die within five years of diagnosis than whites, but with proper treatment, whether it’s medicine or surgery, the survival rate is the same. He says patients should ask questions of their doctors and get more information before any kind of treatment.

Glenda Frazier is living proof.

“Do your research, talk to your doctors, talk to a specialist, not just some general person, and also talk to your friends,” said Frazier. “Don’t settle for no.”