WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, and for most patients, they don't experience symptoms until the cancer is in the late stages.
"Seven months ago, I was working in my office, and I've been blessed with good health. I've had excellent health my whole life, I've never been sick," Ken Schlosser said. "Then, a very young doctor had to come in and break the news to me which was difficult."
The news? He had stage 4 lung cancer. His cancer has a unique mutation where only 4% of people have his specific kind.
"It's like the cancer lottery in some respects because there is targeted therapy, and I'm able to take medication and chemotherapy at home," Schlosser said.
To say Schlosser was shocked about his diagnosis is an understatement.
He's never smoked, played basketball and says he lived a healthy life.
Many people think you get lung cancer from smoking, but Schlosser wants people to realize that's sometimes not the case.
"For the past maybe decade or so, we have seen (an) increase in patients that never smoked," says Dr. Grace Dy with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dy says symptoms of lung cancer usually develop in the later stages. She says screening has improved but it's still very hard to detect lung cancer early.
"We do not screen everyone because if you're not high risk for developing cancer, doing a screening may just lead to unnecessary testing," Dy says.
Schlosser takes eight chemotherapy pills every day, and after seven months of treatment, his cancerous tumor has shrunk 60%.
"Be in tune with your body, anything that is out of the ordinary, try to get it checked out as soon as possible," he says.