Torrance Memorial Medical Center, at the forefront of cancer diagnostics, now offers a low-dose CT screening for those at increased risk for lung cancer . According to early trials at the National Cancer Institute's National Lung Screening Trial, those at high risk who undergo this type of screening annually have a 20% less chance of dying of lung cancer than those who get a standard chest X-ray.
"We had discussed offering a CT lung screening program for several years, but we were waiting for the results of this national study that proved that screening of high risk individuals reduces lung cancer mortality," says Paula Bauer, RN, MSN, OCN, an Oncology Nurse Practitioner at Torrance Memorial. "When the preliminary study results were published in December 2010, we decided to move forward with developing the program."
Detecting and treating lung cancer at its earliest stage is key to saving lives. The American Cancer Society estimates that 157,000 people in the U.S. die of lung cancer each year, and since the majority of lung cancers are smoking related, 30,000 lives could be saved if these people had undergone annual CT lung screening.
CT lung screening is recommended for persons who have a significant smoking history and are between the ages of 55 and 74. An individual with significant secondhand smoke exposure should also consider being screened. Physician referral is required for CT lung screening and the cost is $350 for a scan (insurance will not cover it). "The screening is appropriate for asymptomatic individuals-those without symptoms of lung cancer," says Bauer. "Symptoms of lung cancer include persistent cough, unexplained weight loss, or hemoptysis (coughing up blood). Persons with symptoms of lung cancer should see their physician for a diagnostic work-up, which likely would include a diagnostic CT scan."
To learn more about the benefits and risks of the screening process, call 310-517-4665.