A team of experts at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital has recently designed a new program for screening, earlier detection, and treatment of lung cancer. The latter is a common form of cancer that is characterized by high mortality rates.
A recent trial, the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, involved 53,000 ongoing and ex-heavy smokers, between 55 and 74 years. It indicated that 20% less mortality cases were reported among those screened with low-dose spiral or helical CT rather than those screened with conventional X-ray.
Mani Kavuru, MD, director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Jefferson University Hospital, said “We are acting on this game-changing research to make spiral CT and the necessary follow-up care available in a one-day, low-cost multidisciplinary screening program. The main difference between spiral CT and traditional X-ray is that spiral CT generates multiple images of whole chest which means providing images with higher details of the chest structures.
The recently designed Lung Cancer Screening Program is addressing high risk patients, who are smoking 30 packs more per year and are 55 or older. Patients involved in the program undergo low-dose spiral CT scan, the scans are read by a radiologist from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. A pulmonologist then checks the results and follow up with patients. Patients are then referred to a smoking cessation counseling session. All the procedures involved in the program take place in a single visit, and they cost $350.
Rita Axelrod, M.D., lung cancer specialist and professor of Medical Oncology, said “The mortality rates for patients diagnosed with lung cancer are staggeringly high because the cancer is usually advanced when found,” She continued “However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Our multidisciplinary approach program will allow us to better identity high-risk patients who otherwise may have waited too long, and find the disease at an earlier stage when appropriate treatment is more effective. When this cancer is caught early—before it spreads to the lymph nodes or other organs—the survival rate increases.”
Dr. Kavuru concluded “Our program makes low-dose CT scans easily available to the high-risk, asymptomatic patient. Research shows that early diagnosis using spiral CT can save lives. This is our goal.”