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Lung Nodule Screenings

Lung Cancer is the leading cause of death from cancers in men and women. Early detection of these cancers is shown to save lives.

At Deaconess, we have created a dedicated Lung cancer screening program to help detect lung cancer at the earliest stages when it has the best chance of cure. We use a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) which utilizes minimal radiation to take detailed images of the lung. It can identify early signs of cancer in high-risk patients.
Who qualifies? 
This screening test is for individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer. You may be eligible if you are
  1. Between the age of 50 - 80 yrs.  
  2. Have smoked 20 pack-years (calculated by multiplying the average number of packs smoked per day by the number of years smoked).
  3. If you are a current smoker or have quit in the past 15 years.
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Is Lung cancer screening expensive? 
Lung cancer screening is free for eligible patients as it is covered by Medicare and most insurance. Self-paying individuals can also avail this opportunity for a small fee.
Are there any potential risks to screening? 
Like any other cancer screening, there are a few factors that we discuss with high-risk individuals. These include:
  1. False-positive scan:
    Low-dose CT scans are designed to pick up small spots in the lung (lung nodules). 95% of these lung nodules are benign scar lesions. However, some features of these nodules can be concerning for cancer. This can lead to extra scans and biopsies only to be reassured that it was not cancer. For some, this is an anxiety-provoking process.
  2. False-negative scan:
    There is no such thing as a perfect screening test. Not all cancer will be detected using the screening test and may develop in between the yearly scans. Sometimes, the low-dose CT scans can also identify small spots that appear benign but will need to be monitored to ensure it is not cancer. 
  3. Radiation exposure:
    Low-dose CT scan emits five times less radiation than a regular CT scan. Still, it may add up with repeated scans. No one really knows how much impact it may have on your health over time. It potentially adds a minuscule amount of risk for getting cancer years in the future.
  4. Over-diagnosis:
    Lung cancers can grow at variable speeds, some of which are quite slow. Depending on the individual’s health, another illness such as lung disease or heart disease is more immediately life-threatening than lung cancer. Any testing or surgery for cancer may, in retrospect, be unnecessary.
Do the benefits of screening outweigh the potential risks? 
Extensive research has shown that lung cancer screening has benefits that far outweigh the harm. They can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by up to 20%. At Deaconess, we combine our lung cancer screening programs with a high-quality and dedicated clinic. In addition, we use a multi-specialty review conference to minimize the harm and provide prompt, effective care.
Early-stage lung cancer patients have an 80% chance of survival at five years. This drops to less than 5% if found when cancer has spread. Unfortunately, most individuals do not have symptoms at an early stage. Symptoms typically present quite late when there is not a good chance for cure.

Treating Lung Nodules

If you are diagnosed with lung nodules, our care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. This plan will depend on the type and stage of your lung nodule, your general health and your treatment preferences. Below is additional information related to the treatment of a diagnosis. 

  • You will be referred to the Lung Nodule Clinic for further evaluation.
  • The Lung Nodule Clinic is located at the Deaconess Gateway Campus in Medical Office Building 3, on the second floor. 
  • Our expert team of Pulmonologists will help find a treatment program that works best for your diagnosis. 
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