Seventy-nine percent of lung cancers are metastatic or locally advanced at the time of diagnosis, according to the American Lung Association. The more advanced the cancer, the more difficult it is to treat. This is one of the reasons lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. — causing more deaths than breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers combined.
Aiming to alter this trajectory, UVA has established the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program to identify those patients at elevated risk, diagnose lung cancer in its earliest stages and provide therapy when the disease is most treatable. “What differentiates UVA is that we have established a comprehensive screening program, providing a system of support that goes beyond just the CT scan,” says thoracic radiologist Michael Hanley, MD.
Patients who undergo screening at UVA are educated about the risk factors for lung cancer, given access to smoking cessation programs and tracked via EpicCare after screening to ensure they’re not lost to follow up. If something is revealed on the scan, patients are promptly referred to a team of lung cancer experts, including medical oncologists and thoracic surgeons who collaborate to ensure patients receive well-rounded care. Screened patients have a direct link to all of the resources provided by UVA’s NCI-designated cancer center.
Advanced Screening Tools
In screening for lung cancer, UVA utilizes low-dose computed tomography (CT). “Low-dose CT is not entirely new, but we have the advanced technology and expertise to make the images more clear and their interpretation more precise,” says Hanley. There are five dedicated thoracic radiologists at UVA specially trained to read this type of scan, which means greater accuracy and fewer false positives.
Patients Eligible for Screening
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends lung cancer screening annually for asymptomatic patients who meet the following criteria:
- Between the ages of 55 and 80
- Smoker of one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years
- Current smoker or someone who has quit within the past 15 years
Lung cancer screening is currently not covered by some insurance providers. Thus, UVA is offering this service at a reduced rate ($200) for those paying out of pocket. Screening is now offered at multiple UVA locations, including:
- University Hospital
- Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center
- UVA Medical Park Zion Crossroads
- UVA Fontaine Research Park
If you have a patient you feel may benefit from lung cancer screening, you can order the low-dose CT scan in by calling 855.200.LUNG (ext. 4-2510). View the results in EpicCare Link.
Read more about lung cancer treatment at UVA.