Published monthly in The Marysville Advocate, "To Your Health" articles provide information about health and wellness topics. This month's article, written by Brenda Heideman, CMH Radiology Director, is entitled:
CMH Offers Low Dose CT aimed at reducing cancer deaths
CMH now offers a low-dose CT (LDCT) scan to help catch tumors in patients at high risk for developing lung cancer. Lung cancer has long been the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. This is because by the time the symptoms of lung cancer appear, the disease has reached advanced stages which are more difficult and sometimes impossible to cure. As a result, approximately 95% of the 173,000 people diagnosed each year die from the disease. In the past, no screening method provided detection of lung cancer in the earliest, more treatable stages so that a sufficient number of cancers could be cured. Now that problem has been addressed.
A low-dose version of the familiar CT scan has been proven safe and effective in catching tumors in patients at the highest risk for developing lung cancer. "Low-dose CT is safe, and it will help identify patients with early stage, treatable lung cancer and in the long run help reduce the number of deaths," said Brenda Heideman, Radiology Director at CMH. Research has shown that annual CT screening can find 85% of lung cancers in their earliest, most curable stage. If treated promptly with surgery, their cure rate is 92%. Advances in CT scanning now allow individuals to undergo a painless, non-invasive scan that takes only minutes to perform. No medications are given and no needles are used. You can eat before and after the exam. The radiation dose to patients is lower using the low-dose CT method than a standard CT scan. The radiation dose for a low-dose CT scan is about 1.5 milliSieverts compared to 2 to 8 milliSieverts for a standard chest CT.
Because a CT scan shows cross-sectional images all through your lungs, tiny abnormalities that would never have been seen are able to be shown on the CT. A CT scan can detect these tiny spots (called nodules) that may indicate lung cancer in its early stage.
Individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer are recommended to have an annual low-dose screening exam. People at higher risk generally include individuals who are current or former smokers or are between the ages of 55 to 77. Former cigarette smokers who quit smoking within the last 15 years are also at higher risk, as are people who smoked at least 30 packs a year, the number of years smoked multiplied by the number of packs per day.
CMH now offers a LDCT screening exam in the Radiology Department. Currently LDCT screening is covered by Medicare, and other insurances companies are adopting coverage for this screening as well. The CMH Radiology Department and your physician's office will assist with determining if you have coverage. If you are interested in being screened, we recommend that you discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor so that it is a shared decision. We can schedule these exams once an order is written from your primary doctor for LDCT cancer screening. These screenings are done routinely during the week, Monday through Friday, at CMH.
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