Lung cancer accounts for the greatest number of cancer deaths In the United States, with the American Cancer Society estimating that more than 131,000 Americans will succumb to the disease in 2021.
One weapon in the fight against lung cancer is screenings, with studies showing that early detection can reduce the risk of death by about 20 percent.
“The signs and symptoms of lung cancer often manifest when the cancer is in an advanced stage, making it more difficult to treat,” said Dr. Sharad Chandrika, Catholic Health’s system director of Interventional Pulmonary and Lung Cancer Screening. “If lung cancer is caught early before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves nearly 60 percent. Early detection of cancer also allows doctors to perform less invasive procedures to treat patients.”
Patient screenings use low-dose CT scans that allow physicians to identify abnormal areas in the lungs that may be cancerous. Research shows that scans are a more effective tool than X-rays and can significantly reduce lung cancer deaths. The scan takes only a few seconds and is painless.
At Catholic Health, each patient’s screening results are reviewed by a team of experts in oncology, pulmonology, radiology, radiation oncology, surgery and others to determine whether additional action is needed to meet their specific needs.
Designated a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiologists, the prestigious honor signifies that Catholic Health’s lung screening program has met rigorous quality standards to provide safe, effective lung cancer screening services.
Should larger or growing nodules be identified, there is a likelihood of cancer. Dr. Chandrika said the goal is early detection, and further testing is completed through a PET scan, biopsy or possibly surgery. Additionally, benign nodules can also be identified and will require further testing. Several lung conditions such as scars from infections that are non-cancerous appear as small spots on a scan.
Most nodules will need to be monitored over time as directed by a physician.
If no abnormalities are detected, your doctor may recommend annual screenings for a period of years that will be determined in consultation with the physician and patient.
Guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend annual screenings for those who have a smoking history of at least 20 packs per year, currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years and are between 50 and 80 years old.
Catholic Health offers lung cancer screenings at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown, St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® in Roslyn, Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage and Ambulatory Care at Commack.
More information on Catholic Health’s lung cancer screening program may be obtained by calling (844) CHS-LUNG or visiting chsli.org.