Our #1 Cancer Killer – Lung cancer claims more lives than colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. As is the case across the country, lung cancer in southern Illinois is often diagnosed at later stages (III & IV) when it is much more difficult to treat. In fact, the advanced stage lung cancer population in southern Illinois is greater than the national average across all Commission on Cancer-accredited hospitals in the US. Because of our region’s particularly high incidence rate, Southern Illinois Healthcare and the SIH Cancer Institute are proud to offer the Lung Cancer Screening Clinic to help catch this potentially deadly cancer early.
If you are 55-77 years old, a current or former smoker who quit smoking less than 15 years ago and you have a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (1 pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years, etc.), and you do not currently have signs or symptoms of lung cancer, you are at high risk for developing lung cancer and likely eligible for a potentially life-saving screening. The SIH Lung Cancer Screening Clinic provides access to the most advanced diagnostic screening tool available today – the low-dose spiral CT (Computed Tomography) scan.
State-of-the-Art CT – CT screening is a non-invasive medical test performed in the hospital Imaging Department. A CT scan is able to detect small nodules that cannot be detected by a chest X-Ray. There is no preparation needed for a low-dose CT scan and the screening is quick and easy – taking only 5-10 seconds. Concerns about radiation exposure from CT can be discussed with the clinician, but the dose of radiation from a CT scan is believed to be equal to the normal amount of environmental radiation people experience over a typical 6-month period. Experts have determined that the benefits of screening far outweigh the very small chance that annual CT screenings (over many years) could cause cancer to develop.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies that participate in state health insurance exchanges must provide preventative CT screenings with no out-of-pocket expense to the patient.
A referral from your primary care provider is necessary to obtain a screening, so it is critical to discuss your risk factors and eligibility for screening. Once referred, our dedicated lung cancer screening nurse navigator, Kari Winters, can order the CT scan, in addition to offering a more comprehensive explanation of the risks, benefits and possible results of the screening.
If you are a current smoker, you will also receive counseling for smoking cessation and the best possible interventions for you. A CT screening is never a replacement for smoking cessation and quitting is the single best thing you can do for your health right now. Prevention, and early detection, saves lives.