Lung cancer is by far one of the deadliest of all cancers. As a matter
of fact, according to the American Cancer Society, it kills more people
per year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
The bad news: if you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing
lung cancer may be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked.
“The good news is that the American College of Radiology (ACR) has
designated the Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick and Camden campuses,
as well as its MRI & Imaging Center, as accredited Lung Cancer Screening
Centers,” says Ranie Howe, MS, RT(R), director of Radiology Services
at the Health System’s Brunswick Campus. “Together, we count
as three of the 20 designated facilities in Georgia.”
“Becoming an ACR designated Lung Cancer Screening Center is extremely
important to us and our commitment to meet the health care needs of our
patients,” says Kenyon M. Meadows, M.D., board-certified radiation
oncologist for Southeast Georgia Health System Cancer Care Center. “A
low-dose CT scan to detect lung cancer earlier, and appropriate follow-up
care, significantly increases the chances of survival. With early detection,
surgery or CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery treatment can cure over
70 percent of stage 1 lung cancers.”
In order to receive this elite distinction, facilities must be accredited
by the ACR in computed tomography in the chest module, as well as undergo
a rigorous assessment of its lung cancer screening protocol and infrastructure.
Also required are procedures in place for follow-up patient care, such
as counseling and smoking cessation programs.
Providing the low-dose CT scans at the Health System satisfies a growing
need for preventative lung cancer screening in Coastal Georgia as well
as on a national scale. Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death
from cancer in the United States, and its five-year survival rate is less
than 16 percent.
One of the reasons for these daunting statistics is that preventative screening
for early lung cancer detection did not previously exist. Traditionally,
regular CT scans exposed patients to unnecessary and unhealthy radiation,
making regular scans for preventative purposes counter-productive. Advances
in medical technology, however, now allow for safe screenings.
“One low-dose CT scan exposes patients to one-eighth the radiation
of a regular CT,” explains Meadows. “Before the advent of
low-dose CT scans, lung cancer wasn’t diagnosed until people displayed
an uncontrollable cough, unexplained weight loss and coughing up blood.
By the time such physical symptoms are present, the disease is already
in its late stages, making it harder to cure.”
The later the disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is to have spread
to other organs. Once the tumor has metastasized, the chances of survival
drop substantially. High risk patients who participate in low-dose CT
scans, however, increase their chances of early detection and therefore
may begin treatment when their survival rate is much higher.
In addition to exposing patients to less radiation and allowing for earlier
lung cancer detection, low-dose CT scans are also affordable. Many insurance
carriers actually cover the costs of these screenings, so patients should
check with their provider to determine if they are eligible. In general,
ideal candidates who should consider having a lung cancer screening are
adults age 55-80 years who do not display physical signs or symptoms of
lung cancer, are active or former smokers with a 30-pack year history
(1 pack per day for 30 years; 2 packs per day for 15 years, etc.), and
former smokers who have quit within the last 15 years.
Talk with your physician to learn more about lung cancer screenings, or visit
for more information. To find a physician, call 855-ASK-SGHS (855-275-7447).