Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In the past, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer has been approximately 15 percent, a discouraging statistic that can be improved upon with early diagnosis. For this reason, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital (OLBH) offers a lung cancer screening program that utilizes CT (computerized tomography) scanning for early diagnosis of the disease.
Lung cancer is subtle and often causes no symptoms until it has spread outside the lung to other parts of the body. Like patients with other forms of cancer, lung cancer patients who do survive usually are diagnosed early. “Too often, lung cancer is first discovered accidentally when testing is being done for some other reason,” Terri Hannon, director of OLBH Imaging Services, said. “With our lung cancer screening program, we are offering those who may be at risk the opportunity to have a preventative CT scan that could prove to be lifesaving.”
A CT scan is a quick, painless, procedure that creates a very detailed, cross-sectional image made up of x-rays taken from many angles. The scan takes less than 20 seconds to perform and does not involve any injections. As opposed to traditional chest x-rays, which only show two views of the chest (front and side), a CT scan shows more than 300 cross-sectional images of the chest, from the tip through the base of the lungs. Thus, tiny abnormalities such as those that could indicate the early stages of lung cancer can be found that would not have been seen on a chest x-ray.
In order to qualify for a low-cost CT lung screening at OLBH, participants must be at least 50 years-old, have no current pulmonary symptoms (worsening cough, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, etc.), or unexplained weight loss, and meet at least one of the following criteria:
• Current smoker or a have a prior smoking history of at least a pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years, etc.
• Second-hand smoke exposure of at least 10 years or more.
• Occupational exposure to environmental cancer causing substances including chemicals, gases, and inhaled dust particles.
Participants may not have had a chest CT within the past six months or any of the following lung disorders:
• Sarcoid Disease
• Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
• Interstitial Lung Disease
“If you have multiple risk factors for lung cancer, we may detect a lung cancer in an early stage, when it is most curable,” Hannon, said.
The cost of the low-dose lung CT scan is $75 and is not covered by insurance. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, call (606) 833-3999.
OLBH’s lung cancer screening program can be a lifesaver. The program is a partnership of several medical disciplines at the hos-pital, specifically pulmonology and radiology. OLBH’s team of board certified radiologists read the CT exam results with the intent of catching any problems in the early stages of lung cancer.