OHC Launches Lung Cancer Early-Detection Program
As is the case with most cancers, successfully treating lung cancer means catching it as early as possible. But because of the nature of this cancer’s early-stage symptoms, that’s not always possible.
OHC and Mercy Health have joined forces to launch a new lung cancer screening program that could potentially save lives with early detection.
After nearly a year of physician collaboration — which included medical and radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, and thoracic surgeons — the lung cancer early-detection program recently launched. The goal of the program is to catch lung cancer in its early stages.
Typically, those who have a high risk of lung cancer are smokers. That group sometimes experiences symptoms caused by the smoking, such as a ‘smokers’ cough, that are identical to symptoms of early-stage lung cancer but are not in fact caused by cancer. So it’s common for those in early stages of lung cancer to dismiss their symptoms as being relatively harmless.
They do become concerned, though, when more severe symptoms emerge, such as coughing up blood, chest pain, or a severe shortness of breath. Unfortunately, by that time, the cancer may have progressed too far for a treatment that cures.
Individuals must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the screening:
- They must be between 55 and 79 years of age; and
- They must have either:
- Smoked one pack per day for 30 years, or
- Smoked two packs per day for 15 years, or
- Been a smoker who quit in the last 15 years.
The screening takes just 20 minutes. It involves a low-level CT scan that images the lungs. Physicians examine the scans, looking for cancer.
This new program is available at all five Mercy Health locations: Anderson, Clermont, Fairfield, Jewish (Kenwood), and West. Nurse Navigators are at each location to help navigate patients through the process. Smoking cessation programs and other helpful community resources are available.
The scan is not always covered by insurance. Until it is a covered benefit, Mercy Health has lowered the out-of-pocket expense of the screening to just $99.
You are encouraged to discuss the low-dose CT scan with your primary care physician. If you suspect that you might be a candidate for the screening, you should first visit your family doctor to determine what your next steps should be.
Twenty-five percent of all cancer deaths are caused by lung cancer. It is believed that the high number is due to the fact that this particular type of cancer is hard to detect among smokers because of the difficulty in determining if the symptoms are caused by the smoking or from the cancer.
With this new screening, it’s hoped that lung cancer can be detected earlier, and the high mortality rate of this disease can be reduced.