Lung Cancer Screening Program
Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans of the chest for individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer. We developed our Lung Cancer Screening program to meet all of the Task Forces requirements, including a multidisciplinary review of CT scans with nodules that are greater than 8mm in size, and using one of the few ultra low-dosage CT scanners in Portland. It is important to note that 27% of patients who get a screening CT will have some abnormality on their CT scan, but only 1% of them will end up having cancer; 10% will have some abnormality unrelated to their lungs.
Criteria for screening eligibility:
- Men and women age 55-79
- Current, or former smokers who have quit within the last 15 years
- Individuals with at least a 30 pack a year history of smoking
- Individuals who would be willing and able to undergo curative treatment
If you or a loved one meets the above criteria:
Call The Oregon Clinic Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine at (503) 963-3030 to refer yourself to The Oregon Clinic Lung Cancer Screening Program. Most insurance providers are approving screening CT scans at this time (of note, Medicare is now covering lung cancer screening, but only patients up to age 77). Check with your insurance provider to ensure your screening will be covered.
In addition to the screening, our Lung Cancer Screening Program:
- Provides resources and counseling for smoking cessation,
- Offers patients more information and answers patient questions about lung cancer and screening,
- Explains that the report will go to their physician/provider and to The Oregon Clinic Lung Cancer Screening program,
What is Lung Cancer Screening?
Screening for lung cancer involves a test that can detect cancer before there are any symptoms. Screening for certain types of cancer has been shown to reduce deaths by detecting cancers early and allowing for earlier and more effective treatment. Lung cancer screening uses ultra low-dose CT scans of the lungs, performed on a yearly basis, to find lung cancer before there are any symptoms. These ultra low-dose CT scans have the ability to detect cancer when it is the size of a grain of rice, compared to traditional x-rays that can only detect cancer when it has grown to the size of a dime.
Who Should Be Screened?
Current & Former Smokers Who Have Quit Within the past 15 Years and:
- Have smoked the equivalent of 1 pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or more (2 for 15 years, etc.),
- Are between the ages of 55 and 79,
- Are healthy enough to consider treatment for lung cancer if lung cancer is discovered.
If You Meet These Criteria and Are Interested in Learning More About Lung Cancer Screening:
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. In 2013, lung cancer accounted for more than 150,000 deaths in the US—more than colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer combined.
Most lung cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage where cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Approximately 85% of lung cancers have spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body at the time of diagnosis. We know that diagnosing cancers at an earlier stage, before the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body provides a much better chance of cure. For example, the likelihood that someone will survive for 5 years with a lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized) is only about 4%, compared to about 55% for cancers that are localized only to the lung.
Up until recently, we have not had an effective strategy for screening for lung cancer. That has now changed with the use of ultra low-dose CT scans.
If you meet the inclusion criteria for lung cancer screening, you may refer yourself by calling The Oregon Clinic - Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine at (503) 963-3030.
As of 2015, most insurers will cover the cost of lung cancer screening for patients who meet the inclusion criteria. In February of 2015, it was announced that Medicare beneficiaries with a history of significant tobacco use who are at high risk for lung cancer will have coverage for lung cancer screening.
If there any questions regarding whether insurance will cover the cost of screening, our staff at The Oregon Clinic can help determine your insurance coverage.
One of the concerns with lung cancer screening is that CT scans use x-ray equipment, which exposes you to radiation. The level of radiation exposure from a ultra low-dose CT scan is a 50 - 70 percent less than a usual CT scan, and the risk of complications from this low dose of radiation, even if someone receives multiple low-dose CT scans over a period of years, is thought to be very, very low. With the ultra low-dose chest CT scans that we use at The Oregon Clinic, the radiation exposure is roughly equivalent to the natural background environmental radiation exposure over a period of 6 months, or as much as 15 traditional x-rays.
One of the keys to successful lung cancer screenings is to avoid unnecessary biopsy procedures and surgery. This is where having a group of experts to review the scans and help decide what to do is absolutely critical. In the three years of screening during the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, abnormal findings on the CT scan occurred in 27 percent of the patients, and more than 90 percent of those abnormalities turned out not to be lung cancer.
The best way to prevent lung cancer is to never smoke or to stop smoking now. The Oregon Clinic is committed to helping you quit smoking.
Even after receiving a normal scan, individuals that meet the screening criteria would still be considered at high risk for lung cancer. Our team of experts continue to do yearly scans for high-risk individuals.
Because 85% of lung cancers are related to smoking, it remains critical that you continue to work on quitting smoking and we have a number of programs to help.
The largest trial of lung cancer screening to date, the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (published in 2011), included 53,000 individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer, and showed that heavy smokers were 20% less likely to die from lung cancer if they underwent a screening with CT scans. The overall mortality in the screening group was 6.7% less than in the group that did not receive CT scans.
- To find lung cancer at an earlier stage, when treatments are more effective
- To improve the chances of survival from lung cancer
- Lung cancer screening is now recommended by the United States Preventative Services Task Force for individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer
Lung Cancer Screening uses ultra low dose CT scans of the lungs performed once each year for smokers or former smokers at high risk for developing lung cancer to detect lung cancer BEFORE there are symptoms.