Riverside Offers Lung Cancer Screenings

NEWPORT NEWS, VA. – September 2013 – Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths, and Riverside Health System Regional Medical Center is offering early detection screenings to help catch cases earlier and save more lives.

All Riverside Health System hospitals and diagnostic centers now offer low-dose CT screening for patients who have risk factors and may be at risk of developing lung cancer. Typically, chest X-rays are used to diagnose patients who already exhibit signs of cancer, but often the disease is at an advanced staged when it's detected. The new early detection screenings are available to high-risk patients before symptoms develop.

Screenings are available at Riverside facilities in Newport News, Hampton, Smithfield, Williamsburg, Gloucester, Nassawadox and Tappahannock.

A National Lung Screening Study published in 2011 showed that people at high risk for developing lung cancer who were screened with low-dose CT scans saw a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer-related mortality compared with those who were screened with standard chest x-rays.

"The quicker we can catch lung cancer, the better we can treat it, and the better chance we have at beating it," said Steven Scott, M.D., of Riverside Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and partner in the screening project. "Offering early detection screenings is another way Riverside is carrying out its mission of caring for others as we care for those we love."

The American Cancer Society estimates about 228,190 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and about 159,480 people will die from lung cancer in the U.S. in 2013. That accounts for 27 percent – more than a quarter – of all cancer deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, according to the American Cancer Society.

Lung screenings are designed for people 55 to 74 years old who have smoked an average of a pack a day for 30 years, who are currently smoking or who quit less than 15 years ago. Others, who have smoked less, but have additional risk factors, are also offered the screenings.

"Lung cancer is a deadly disease, but it doesn't have to be," Scott said. "Anyone who is at high risk of developing lung cancer should consider undergoing an early detection screening and should consider quitting smoking, if they haven't already. Riverside offers help to those who want to quit smoking."

Riverside offers Smokeless®, a program to help people quit smoking on the Peninsula. For information, call Holly Hicks at (757) 875-7533.

To learn more about early detection lung cancer screenings or to schedule an appointment, call Riverside's lung cancer patient navigator at (757) 534-LUNG.

Frequently Asked Questions about early detection lung cancer screenings

1. Why should I be screened for lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the most common fatal cancer in adults, but it's treatable if it's caught early. Screening helps to identify lung cancer early, when it's most treatable.

2. Who is a candidate for a screening?

Lung screenings are designed for people 55 to 74 years old who have smoked for 30 years, who are currently smoking or who quit less than 15 years ago.

3. What is the cost?  Is it covered by insurance?

At this time, preventative screenings are not covered by insurance and cost $225. This upfront cost could save you from undergoing more costly treatments down the road, if it catches a problem early.

4. How do I set up an appointment?

Call (757) 534-LUNG.

5. What can I expect during my screening appointment?

The screening itself takes just a few seconds. You will be asked to briefly hold your breath to capture the most accurate images. Afterward, you will meet with a specialist to receive the results of the screening.

6. What happens after my lung cancer screening?

If the screen results are negative, the patient is recommended to be screened again each year for the next two years and to quit smoking. A positive screening means that additional follow-up or further testing is needed to determine if the patient has lung cancer or another problem. A specialist will meet with you to discuss the next steps.

7. Where are lung cancer screenings offered?

Screenings are offered at all Riverside hospitals and outpatient radiology centers. Call (757) 534-LUNG to find the location nearest you.

8. Does Riverside offer classes to help me quit smoking?

Yes, Smokeless®, a smoking-cessation program, is offered at Riverside Regional Medical Center. For information, call Holly Hicks at (757) 875-7533.

9. What are the risks of undergoing a lung cancer screening?

The screening exposes patients to a very low amount of radiation. There's also a small chance that the screening may not result in an accurate diagnosis, meaning the screening may detect no cancer when cancer is present, or may detect cancer when no cancer is present.

10. How is this screening different from the old way of screening?

The CT scanner may detect very small abnormalities that do not show up on regular X-rays until they are much larger and more difficult to treat.

11. What if I'm diagnosed with lung cancer?

We are here to help. Riverside Health System offers the full array of lung cancer services, from targeted therapy, which uses specialized drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells, to chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. A lung cancer patient navigator is available to walk patients through every step of the process. Learn more about Riverside's lung cancer program and meet the lung cancer team at www.riversideonline.com/services/cancer/lung.

Published: October 4, 2013