Are you a former or current smoker? Did you smoke heavily, but quit several years ago? Have you been exposed to second hand smoke? Or has one of your family members had a lung cancer diagnosis? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may have a higher risk for developing lung cancer. Fortunately, a new technique has been pioneered and tested by the Early Lung Cancer Action Project (ELCAP) team of researchers at the New York Presbyterian Hospital - Weill Cornell Medical Center. With nearly ten years of experience in screening for lung cancer, this project is headed by Dr. Claudia Henschke, Professor of Radiology and Division Chief of Chest Imaging. This phenomenon has spread both nationally and internationally. In her travels across the globe, Dr. Henschke has shared her extensive experience and has spoken about the importance of lung cancer screening in high-risk populations. She has extended the ELCAP approach to centers around the world.
Thus far, the ELCAP study was published in the prestigious medical journal, Lancet, and reported about on the front page of The New York Times. In the initial ELCAP study, smokers and ex-smokers, 60 and over, with no prior cancers, were screened with both a low-dose CT scan of the chest and a conventional chest x-ray. The results showed that chest x-rays failed to reveal 85% of the early-stage cancers detected by the CT scans. Of the cancers detected by the CT scan, 96% of these small lesions could be surgically removed. Since survival and cure rates relate to the size of malignant tumors at the time they are surgically removed, the cure rate of these individuals may be increased to over 80% (compared with the dismal 12 % cure rate of later stage lung cancers).
So, what is a lung cancer CT screening test? It is painless test that scans your chest to detect the tiniest nodules, or spots on your lungs that may be the earliest signs of lung cancer. The test is done with a CT (computed tomography) scan using a low-dose technique, meaning a low amount of radiation is used. The person being scanned lies on a table and slides through an open donut- shaped machine while holding their breath for a period of 20 seconds. In these 20 seconds, pictures are taken cross-sectionally throughout the lungs every few millimeters so that any abnormalities present can be seen. In addition to finding nodules on the screening CT, some other abnormalities commonly detected include: emphysema, coronary artery calcifications or other benign lung diseases such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.
When you come in for your lung cancer CT screening appointment, every participant will meet with a Lung Screening Coordinator. The coordinator will have the participant read and sign a consent form and will discuss any questions about the test or the program that the participant may have. The coordinator will ask the subject a series of questions pertaining to their health and smoking history. This information is confidential and helps to assess the risk level of each of our participants and may assist in managing their care. The entire visit takes only about 15-20 minutes. Once you have finished the test, you will be free to go about the rest of your day.
Each low-dose CT scan is then independently evaluated by two experienced chest radiologists at the Weill Cornell Medical Center. The results are reported to the individual's physician and a copy of the report is also mailed to the participant's home address. At the present time we have one clinical program, which offers a Lung Cancer CT Screening for individuals 40 years of age and older who meet certain qualifying factors.
To schedule an appointment for our clinical program, a prescription from your physician ordering the lung cancer screening CT is required. As this is New York Presbyterian Hospital policy, we ask that the prescription is either faxed or mailed to us directly with your name and phone number clearly printed on it. Upon receipt of the prescription, one of our coordinators will call you directly to schedule the appointment. Currently, most insurance plans do not cover this procedure and the fee of approximately $300 is taken at the time of the appointment. Please call us directly at 212-746-1325 to find out if you are eligible for our clinical program and to schedule an appointment. Please be prepared to give demographic information including your name, address, phone number, and date of birth over the phone when you call. Prescriptions should be faxed to 212-746-4860.
Lung cancer has no symptoms in its early stages. The American Cancer Society states that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, cervix and prostate cancers combined. However, screening high-risk individuals with an ELCAP low-dose chest CT scan, lung cancer can be detected early, and spare so many lives; like yours or someone you love. Thousands of people at risk have called us and are happy that they had a lung cancer screening CT here at New York-Presbyterian Hospital - Weill Cornell Medical Center. It's a quick test that could save your life. Call for your lung cancer screening CT today!