LONG BEACH - Medicine has made giant leaps over the past half century.

Dr. Lun W. Hom, however, has given his patients the same advice during the bulk of that time: Check for possible cancer problems early to avoid serious surgery, or possibly death. The cancer surgeon emphasizes that while the regular guideline is for checks after age 50, it's more advisable to have exams at 30 years.

"We want to find it earlier and earlier and earlier," Hom said in a recent interview, as he prepared to hang up his stethoscope after 45 years of practice and instruction.

Hom, 79, retired this week.

The doctor has been caring for patients in Long Beach since 1968 as a cancer surgeon, and he has shared his skills as a seasoned instructor at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for more than 40 years. He was appointed in 1980 as clinical assistant professor of surgery at USC, and he also had appointments at UC Irvine and Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center in Los Angeles.

"He's been a very outstanding surgeon," said Dr. Simon Rayhanabad, a vascular surgeon who knew Hom at Memorial. "My hat is off to him - my highest compliments to him."

Hom said many of his patients traveled long distances to get treated by him, coming from the Midwest, as well as China and other parts of Asia.

He said that his push for people to get tested for breast cancer, colon cancer and similar diseases at an earlier age has proven to make the cancer more treatable and minimizes the need for "defacing" surgery.


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Mammograms have become an especially important tool, Hom said.

Hom's family immigrated to the United States from China in 1949 and settled in San Diego, where his father had established himself earlier in a successful cafeteria business.

The youth knew no English when he arrived. However, within a year, he learned enough to enter San Diego High School, where he graduated in 1954, sixth in a class of nearly 1,000 students.

"In this country, if you don't learn the language, you'd never move ahead," the doctor said. "Anybody can move ahead, if they want."

Hom studied pre-med at the University of Southern California and then attended the USC Medical School in 1958.

He received surgical training at the Long Beach veterans hospital and had his fellowship in cancer surgery at the City of Hope.

While at the City of Hope, in the late 1960s, Hom was accepted into the American Board of Surgery. In 1968, he joined Dr. Grant Beckstrand's Long Beach Tumor Institute.

Hom said he plans to remain active in many civic organizations, including the Rotary Club, in his retirement.

In his new free time, Hom plans to do tai chi, a Chinese system of slow and deliberate meditative physical exercise that he now spends about 20 minutes a day doing. He also plays a bamboo flute and works on woodwork, producing cabinets in his house.

He also grows orchids and does photography to raise money for charities.

Hom recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife, Kai, and they have three sons who all earned their Eagle Scout awards in Long Beach: Steve, the oldest at 32, is a radiologist; Brian, 31, is an attorney; and James, 29, is co-founder of SoundHound, a make of a mobile device app that can identify music.

joe.segura@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2167, twitter.com/JoeSeguraPT