Lung cancer screening for smokers, ex-smokers.
Naperville Sun HealthAware column:
CT lung scan saves lives
By: Edward Hospital
November 13, 2013
While tobacco use remains the leading cause of lung cancer, a screening that includes low-dose computerized tomography (CT) may help smokers and ex-smokers breathe a little easier about the future.
The CT screening, offered by Edward Hospital, is recommended for people 55 to 74 who smoked a pack or more of cigarettes for 30 years, or two packs daily for 15 years. The screening may also be appropriate if you smoked less, but are at least 50 years old and have additional risk factors, such as family history, COPD or prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals. Patients can also get a pulmonary function screening for early detection of emphysema or COPD.
The Edward program reflects guidelines that came out of the National Lung Screening Trial, a study of more than 50,000 current and former smokers that was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. This research showed that the CT approach versus X-ray screening yielded a 20 percent lower death rate from lung cancer for this high risk group.
“Our program is unique in this area in that all the lung screenings are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team,” says Kim Rohan, an advanced practice nurse and coordinator of the Edward Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Clinic. “The group typically includes medical and radiation oncologists, an interventional pulmonologist, radiologist, cardiothoracic surgeon and other cancer experts. They review the images, discuss any abnormalities and, when appropriate, develop an individualized treatment plan. This coordinated approach allows patients to start treatment sooner.”
Rohan serves as the nurse navigator for patients, answering their questions and linking them to the right resources. In May, she called Plainfield resident LuAnn Klacza to remind her that it was time for her annual screening. Klacza’s first screening was in May 2012 when her concern about her lung cancer risk led her to sign up as the program’s first patient. The 15-minute, non-invasive test indicated she was tumor free, but there were a couple of small nodules on one of her lobes that the doctors wanted to watch.
Rohan recommended an annual screening for 59-year-old Klacza, not only because she was an ex-smoker but because of her family history.
“My father, a smoker, died of lung cancer 17 years ago,” Klacza says. “My mother died seven years ago of respiratory problems after a heart attack and bypass surgery. She was never a smoker but lived for years with second-hand smoke.”
Klacza also was exposed to chemicals in her years as a hair stylist. Her second screening in early June showed no change from her previous baseline CT.
“It was such a relief when Kim called with the good report. But if I ever do have something (abnormal), I would much rather learn about it in the early stages,” she says. “I absolutely would recommend that people at risk for lung cancer go for this screening. It can bring great peace of mind.”
To find out if you would be a candidate for these screenings, or to learn about the clinic’s smoking cessation program, call 630-646-6119.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services