According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
An annual test for lung cancer intended for long-term smokers is now being recommended by major medical organizations, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Low-dose CT, offered by Deaconess Hospital, can help detect lung cancer at its earliest, most-treatable stages.
Low-dose CT is a lung cancer screening option available to higher-risk patients that utilizes much lower radiation than a typical CT scan—up to 70-90% less—and can find lung cancer in early, more-treatable stages.
To be eligible for the screening, you must have the following risk factors:
- Be between the ages of 55-74
- Have a 30 pack-year history or more (details below)
- Be currently smoking or have smoked within the last 15 years
All three criteria must be met for this testing. Because the test does involve some radiation, the risk for lung cancer must be higher than the overall lifetime radiation risk. The “pack-year history” is determined by calculating how many packs of cigarettes per day have been smoked for what number of years. For example, if an individual started smoking at age 20, and smoked a pack a day until age 50, that would be 30 pack years. If that same person smoked 2 packs per day, 30 pack years would be reached by age 35.
If someone thinks they may be a good candidate for the test, getting started with the process is easy. The first step is to call the Nurse Navigator at Chancellor Center for Oncology at 812-858-2268. The test takes place at the Deaconess Hospital main campus at 600 Mary Street in Evansville, Indiana. The testing appointment will last less than 30 minutes.
The results are interpreted by a board certified radiologist, and are also presented to the Deaconess Multidisciplinary Lung Nodule Review Board where each patient’s scan and history is individually reviewed. The patient is then called with results and recommendations, and both the patient and their primary care physician will receive copies of the results.
Many insurance companies currently pay for the screenings, and more are expected to do so soon. Staff at the Chancellor Center will work with individuals’ insurance companies to determine coverage, and handle billing. If someone wants this test and is a good candidate, and their insurance doesn’t cover the test, we will work with patients on affordable payment options. We want this life-saving service to be available to as many people as possible.