In 2010, 220,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States, and only 60,000 of those individuals survived.
When it comes to lung cancer, early stage diagnosis is key to survival. The problem is that due to the lack of symptoms, most lung cancer is found too late.
“Lung cancer is the primary cancer killer in the United States and is especially prevalent in Ohio,” said Dr. James Willey, the George Isaac Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at The University of Toledo. “Eighty-five percent of the patients I see are too advanced for a surgical cure and are going to die within a year or two. However, recent studies have determined that annual screening for lung cancer with a chest CT reverses this number. With screening, 85 percent of patients are diagnosed at early stage when they are candidates for curative surgery.”
That’s why the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center now offers lung cancer screenings for high-risk patients. Screenings are held from 4 to 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month.
The Dana Cancer Center began offering screenings to employees in July and now is offering them to community members. It is most effective for high-risk patients who are between the ages of 55 and 80 who smoke more than 30 packs of cigarettes a year or have quit within the last 15 years.
“It starts in the middle of the lung, and there are not a lot of pain fibers or anything else in the middle of the lung,” Willey said. “There is a lot of room to expand, so the tumor can just push other tissues aside and keep growing without giving a lot of symptoms.”
Just this year, the U.S. Preventative Health Services Task Force announced lung cancer screening as standard of care. Because of that recent change, only a few private insurance companies reimburse the cost at this time. However, the Affordable Care Act will require all private insurance companies to cover this cost starting in January.
“In the meantime, UT is offering the screening at a cost of $99, which covers all costs for the patient — the CAT scan, the interpretation by the radiologist, and a brief consultation with a pulmonologist to interpret the results and give them some initial recommendations,” Willey said. “Beyond the $99, there is no other cost to them for the screening.”
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 419.383.3927.