For Immediate Release:
January 15, 2014
Southcoast Health System extends groundbreaking Lung Cancer Screening Program to Greater New Bedford
Screening program aims to detect early stage lung cancer
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - Southcoast© Health System announced today that it will be extending its groundbreaking lung cancer screening program to the Greater New Bedford community. This innovative program which aims to detect early-stage lung cancer in high-risk individuals before symptoms are present is now being offered in Greater Fall River, with plans to expand throughout all of Southeastern Massachusetts in the coming year.
The Southcoast Lung Cancer Screening Program, directed by Richard Miller, MD, thoracic surgeon and Physician-in-Chief of surgery, has been modeled after the National Lung Screening Trial.
"When Southcoast initially offered the screening program to its employees, we received a great response. We are now pleased to offer the screenings to our patients as well as the general public and plan to do so in phases as we continue to grow the program," Miller said.
The screening program is groundbreaking because typically lung cancer screenings are not covered by insurance. Southcoast is offering the screening program to community members who fit the enrollment criteria for only a $20 enrollment fee.
"We made the decision that we did not want there to be economic barriers to our patients enrolling in this program. Recent studies, including the National Lung Screening Trial, have shown that selective screening of high risk patients with low-dose CT scans of the chest can find early stage lung cancer. Lung cancer that is detected at an early stage can be curable," Dr. Miller said.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and in the South Coast region. Of the four most common cancers (lung, prostate, breast and colon) it is the only cancer without a widely adopted preventative screening test.
The Southcoast Lung Cancer Screening Program is now accepting individuals who meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Age 55 to 74
- Smoking history of 30 pack years* or greater
- If ex-smoker, quit within the last 15 years
- No personal history of previous lung cancer
After an initial evaluation, each participant who qualifies will be given a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest. Participants who continue to qualify for the program will undergo two additional CT scans in year two and year three. In the event that an abnormality is present in any of these scans, Southcoast will review and coordinate further care with the individual’s current medical team.
For more information, or to enroll in the Southcoast Lung Cancer Screening Program, please call 855-259-5864 or visit http://www.southcoast.org/lungscreening/.
*A pack year is a way to measure the amount a person has smoked over a period of time. It is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked. For example, one pack year is equal to smoking 20 cigarettes (1 pack) per day for 1 year or 40 cigarettes (2 packs) for a half year.