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Cumberland, Maryland 21502

    

Lung Cancer Screenings Can Save Lives

Screenings that check for cancer before there are any symptoms are an effective weapon in the fight against cancer.  These screenings help to diagnose cancer in its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.  The recommended screening tests for colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer have been effective in saving lives.

Clinical trials have now demonstrated that lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans and appropriate follow-up care can significantly reduce lung cancer deaths among heavy smokers.  Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cancer killer and takes the lives of more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.  Unfortunately, there are often no symptoms until lung cancer is already in an advanced stage.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening of adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a history of heavy history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.  Heavy smoking means of smoking history of 30 "pack years” or more.  A "pack year” is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for a year.  A smoking history 30-pack years could be someone who 
smokes a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years.

The Western Maryland Health System is designated a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology (ACR).  In order to receive this distinction, facilities must be accredited by the ACR in computed tomography (CT) in the chest module, as well as undergo a rigorous assessment of its lung cancer screening protocol.  Also required are processes in place for follow-up patient care, such as counseling and smoking cessation programs.

Long-time smokers and past smokers are encouraged to talk with their primary care provider to see if a lung cancer screening is right for them.  Many insurance plans, including Medicare, now cover lung cancer screenings for those considered at high risk.
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