Lung Cancer Screening Program

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The Methodist Hospital 
6550 Fannin, Smith Tower, Suite 1661 
Houston, Texas 77030

If you have any questions, contact us at 713-441-LUNG (5864).

From The Methodist Hospital

The goal of The Methodist Hospital’s Lung Cancer Screening Program is to help individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer receive a diagnosis and treatment at an early stage in their disease, when it is  easier to treat and possibly cure.

The program includes annual low-dose CT scans, consultations from health care providers, access to tobacco cessation programs and referrals to physician specialists if disease is found.

What is the benefit of lung cancer screenings?

Results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), published in the New England Journal of Medicine1, revealed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths for participants who received the low-dose helical CT scan compared with those undergoing a standard chest X-ray.

Current and former heavy smokers can now be screened more effectively for lung cancer. Prior to the trial, lung cancer, which is often diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, had shown no benefit from screening when screenings were performed using standard chest X-rays, which did not detect cancers early enough. The trial, funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is the basis  of the development of the new program at  Methodist.

What is the process of a lung cancer screening? How is a lung cancer screening conducted?

The patient will call one of the program’s health care professionals to determine if he/she qualifies. The patient will receive a low-dose single-breath hold CT scan for the screening, which will be read by a board-certified radiologist. The patient will be contacted by a health care professional to discuss the results. If a suspicious nodule is detected, an evaluation plan will be discussed and scheduled.

Based on previously published studies, more than 95 percent of the initially suspicious nodules identified within the lung will  be diagnosed as non-cancerous.

Am I a candidate for a screening?

Screenings are being offered to current or former smokers 55 years of age or older who have smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for at least 30 years. If the candidate is a former smoker, he/she should have quit within the previous 15 years.

Who is not a candidate?

Individuals with a history of lung cancer, unexplained weight loss greater than 15 pounds in the past year, a history of coughing-up blood or who have not smoked a cigarette in more than 15 years will not be offered a lung cancer screening at this point in time. If you are found to have symptoms or have a problem that requires a diagnostic CT scan, one will be ordered for you instead of a screening CT scan.

How do I make an appointment?

To schedule an appointment, call Methodist at 713-441-LUNG (5864). If you are found to be an appropriate candidate, you will be scheduled for a meeting with a health care professional followed immediately by a low-dose CT scan.

What is the risk of a screening?

Not everyone should be screened for lung cancer. Because radiation from the scan is potentially harmful, patients who are at the highest risk for developing lung cancer are only being considered for this program.

The actual dose of radiation from the scan typically ranges from one to four millisieverts (a diagnostic scan is typically 8-10). In the event a nodule is diagnosed, you will have a scheduled evaluation of that nodule that is based on the risk appearance.

Methodist will take every step possible to avoid unnecessary invasive tests while evaluating these nodules.

What is the cost for the lung cancer screening?

Patients are responsible for the annual program screening fee of $300.

As a physician, how do I refer a patient?

Physicians are recommended to call Methodist at 713-441-LUNG (5864).

References:

The National Lung Screening Trial Research Team, Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening. N Engl J Med 2011; 365:395-409, August 4, 2011.