February 04, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists across the United States, people who are at-risk for lung cancer and other forms of cancer continue to delay routine, potentially lifesaving cancer screenings. To ensure the safety of its patients, colleagues and the communities it serves, Parkridge Health System has taken every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and cultivate a safe environment in which patients may undergo screenings that can detect cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for a quarter of all cancer deaths. In part, this is because the disease is often not identified until it reaches its later stages when it is more difficult to treat. To increase the chance of better outcomes, the American Cancer Society recommends annual low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung screening for at-risk patients who:
- Are 55-77 years old and are in good health
- Currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years and have a 30 pack-year history of smoking
- Have no symptoms of lung cancer, which can include a new cough or shortness of breath
“Studies show that screening can reduce the risk of death by 20 percent for this patient population,” said Minerva Covarrubias, MD, pulmonologist at Parkridge Health. “That’s why we strongly recommend that at-risk patients maintain their annual screening regimen and that those who haven’t undergone screening before schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Finding the cancer early is a key to successful treatment.”
How Screening Works
Parkridge Health providers use LDCT technology to take images of the lungs. The technology delivers a lower dose of radiation, which allows patients to safely undergo screening every year. The screening is not invasive, which means no needles are used and no medications are required.
Lung cancer screening is covered by most insurance providers as a preventive service for high-risk individuals. A physician order is required for insurance coverage, so patients should consult their primary care provider – and consult with their insurance provider – before scheduling an appointment.
For more information about low-dose lung cancer screening at Parkridge Health, visit ParkridgeHealth.com.