Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Lung Screening Program has conducted more than 20,000 screenings since its launch in 2015, leading to the detection of nearly 300 lung cancers. Of these detected lung cancers, 74% were found at an early stage.
In the United States, lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of death from cancer among both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
Fortunately, lung cancer deaths are declining partly due to (1) a decline in smoking rates and (2) advances in early detection and treatment, including improved chemotherapeutics, minimally invasive lung surgery and lung cancer screening.
While a history of tobacco smoking can lead to lung cancer, it is important to note that 15% to 20% of men with lung cancer are non-smokers and over 50% of women with lung cancer are non-smokers.
Lung cancer screening consists of a noninvasive low-dose CT scan that uses no needles or injections. It allows providers to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages when available treatments are more effective.
For eligible individuals, lung cancer screenings are fully covered by Medicare and many commercial insurance plans. According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, individuals who meet the criteria below should undergo annual screening CT scans:
- Age 50-80
- 20-pack-year history of smoking or more (this means 1 pack a day for 20 years, 2 packs a day for 10 years, etc.)
- Current smokers or those who have quit within the last 15 years
“No one deserves lung cancer,” said Carolyn Austin, RN, the Lung Screening Program coordinator at Baptist MD Anderson. “Everyone at risk for lung cancer deserves compassion, and we are here to offer support.”
There has been a 21% improvement in the national average of survivors five years after a lung cancer diagnosis, according to the American Lung Association. Early detection through screening helps.
In addition to its screening program, Baptist MD Anderson also offers a Lung Wellness Clinic to help patients with smoking cessation, as well as innovative technologies such as robot-assisted bronchoscopy, a minimally invasive approach that allows physicians to view and conduct biopsies of lung nodules found during screening.
Treatment options for early-stage lung cancers continue to evolve. Recent research has shown that surgically removing less lung tissue can be as effective removing an entire lobe for small tumors, which can offer better quality of life for patients, with fewer effects on breathing after their procedures.
“The spectrum of management for lung cancer, from screening to advanced diagnostics and now lung preservation surgery using advanced robotic surgical techniques, allows patients to not only live longer but enjoy a better quality of life,” said Subrato J. Deb, MD, MPH, thoracic surgeon at Baptist MD Anderson.
To schedule a lung screening, visit baptistjax.com/lungscreening.