WESTON — The American Cancer Society advises “Early Detection Saves Lives.” That is a theme that most physicians will also tell their patients. When found early a cancer diagnosis can mean a better outcome for the patient. When it is found later, it can mean longer and more serious treatments, especially for those diagnosed with lung cancer.
During Lung Cancer Awareness month in November, Mon Health System encourages people who have smoked, or currently smoke, to choose a screening with a low-dose CT scan to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages. The CT scan can detect abnormal areas in the lungs which may represent cancer.
“Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer for both men and women in the United States today. However, early detection can save lives,” explained Brenda Tonkin, Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Radiology Director. “Early detection of lung cancer is important because survival rates can be as high as 59% if the cancer is still localized within the patient’s lungs. Unfortunately, a small number of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at this early stage. That is why the use of the low-dose CT lung screenings is vital to our community.”
West Virginia has one of the highest rates of smoking in the nation, a habit which is closely linked to lung cancer. Receiving the low-dose screening early could dramatically improve the success of treatment for those patients.
Research has shown that screening with low-dose spiral CT scans compared to chest X-rays reduced lung cancer deaths in heavy smokers by 20 percent, improving detection at earlier stages when lung cancer is more easily treatable.
In order to qualify for the low-dose CT screenings, patients must meet the following criteria: be a current or former smoker aged 55 to 77 years old, have a history of smoking 30 or more packs per year, and are either a current smoker or who has quit.
Patients should contact their Mon Health primary care provider for a referral to have the screening. If you are interested in making an appointment or finding a provider near you, visit monhealth.com/primarycare.