The Lung Cancer Screening Program is a multidisciplinary effort aimed at catching the disease in its early stages by using a CT scan of the patient’s lungs. It also offers smoking-cessation counseling.
To qualify for the screening program, patients must be 55 to 74 years old and either an active smoker with at least a 30 pack-year history or have quit smoking within the past 15 years. Pack years are calculated by multiplying the number of packs per day smoked by number of years smoked. They also must be referred by a physician.
The rationale for the creation of the program stems from results of the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Screening Trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2011.
“This study showed an earlier detection of lung cancer and demonstrated a 20-percent reduction in lung cancer mortality among current and former smokers when screened with low-dose helical chest CT versus chest X-ray,” Harakh V. Dedhia, M.D., WVU Healthcare pulmonary medicine specialist, said. “Early detection of lung cancer is critically important because symptoms associated with this disease usually do not occur until the cancer has advanced and is more difficult to treat.”
John E. Parker, M.D., who’s also a WVU Healthcare pulmonary medicine specialist, emphasized, “After many years of disappointment in the early detection of lung cancer, it is truly exciting to enter a new era in screening with hope for better survival.”
Eligible patients need to visit their primary care physician to obtain a referral and an order for the low-dose helical chest CT scan, which will be interpreted by a board-certified radiologist at WVU Healthcare. The primary care physician can order the scan and fax the request to 304-598-6375. The patient should call 1-855-WVU LUNG option 1 to schedule an appointment.
A nurse will call the patient two or three business days following the CT scan and the results will be mailed to the patient and primary care physician for continuity of care and optimized communication. If the results are abnormal, the patient may choose to consult with his/her primary care physician regarding follow-up care or be referred to a WVU Healthcare specialty clinic.
Patients who enroll in the program will be charged a $99 fee to cover the cost of the CT scan and one-on-one smoking cessation education.
“We’re excited about sharing resources with patients that will help them quit smoking and meeting with them to discuss quitting even if they are not quite ready to do so,” Catherine Whitworth, a certified tobacco treatment specialist in WVU’s Translational Tobacco Reduction Research Program, said. “In addition, the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline has dedicated special resources to quickly serve smokers from this program who are interested in free advice and nicotine replacement products to help them quit.”
“Smoking cessation is an extremely important component of our lung cancer screening program,” John Rogers, M.D., director of the Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at the WVU Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, said. “About 85 percent of lung cancer cases are linked to smoking; West Virginia has one of the highest rates of cigarette smoking in the country. We need to offer smokers help to quit to bring down lung cancer rates.”
WVU is the only major cancer center in West Virginia to offer the new screening program.
For information on the WVU Healthcare Lung Cancer Screening Program call Kim Yow, R.N. or Christina Ayers, R.N. at 304-293-9525 or 304-293-2288.
For more information: Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087