Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in the United States. Often, patients are diagnosed with cancer in its later stages, when survival rates are poor. A 2011 National Lung Screening Trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, found that a low-dose CT scan was more effective than an X-Ray in the early diagnosis of lung cancer, and now recommend routine screening for high-risk patients.
A new comprehensive screening program and multi-disciplinary Lung Clinic at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) offers high-risk patients access to this critical detection tool and follow-up treatment.
The Lung Screening Program at SJRMC consists of having a low-dose CT scan performed, followed by a visit to Saint Joseph Cardiothoracic Surgery for evaluation, results and recommendations. The out-of-pocket expense for the low-dose CT Scan is $99. The program is for high-risk patients who meet this specific criteria: *Between 55-74 with a history of smoking 1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years *Between 50-74 and have smoked 1 pack a day for 20 years and have one additional lung cancer screening risk factor (exposure to radon, exposure to asbestos, significant second-hand smoke, exposure to cancer-causing agents, lung scarring from certain types of pneumonia or COPD, or first-degree relative who has had lung cancer)
"If you don't meet the criteria, but you have a history of smoking and experience other symptoms, such as a persistent cough, discuss your risk with your regular doctor," says Truc Ly, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon. "If you don't have a primary care physician, you can self-refer to the screening program."
If lung nodules that require further evaluation are discovered during the screening, the patient will be placed on the schedule for the Lung Clinic, a collaborative effort between SJRMC and Michiana Hematology Oncology (MHO). During the Lung Clinic, patients are seen by a SJRMC cardiothoracic surgeon, a MHO medical oncologist and a MHO radiation oncologist — all during a single clinic visit. Testing, appointments, treatment and follow-up care are coordinated to minimize the patient’s time lost from work and family, and to avoid unnecessary testing and visits.
"Early detection and diagnosis is critical when it comes to lung cancer," said Michael Savitt, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon. "But this should no way distract from continued efforts to decrease and prevent tobacco use, which is a major factor for lung cancer and many other diseases."
For more information call the Lung Screening Program at 574-335-6020.