A guest post from the Medical Director of FMH’s Regional Cancer Therapy Center, Dr. Mark Soberman:
In late 2012, FMH launched its Lung CT Screening Program. Initially, as per the National Lung Screening Trial, eligible patients were those age 55-74, with a 30 pack year (1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, or some other similar combination of packs per day multiplied by years smoked) history of smoking, either current smokers or those who quit in the last 15 years.
Early this year, data from another more recent study compelled us to revise those criteria, lowering the age of eligibility from 55 to 50 and the number of pack-years smoked to 20. This was because the data demonstrated that doing so would improve the sensitivity of the study, without decreasing the specificity or accuracy. In other words, it enables us find more early lung cancers.
As happens in any market, it was just a matter of time before someone else offered screening lung CT scans in the community. However, it’s important to know that all CT screening programs are not the same. All of the professional groups and societies that endorse and recommend CT screening for lung cancer advise that it should be done as part of an organized multidisciplinary program and not a “drive through” where you get a reading and are left with no idea of what it means or what to do.
At FMH, all positive screens or abnormal CT scans are reviewed by an expert team of radiologists, pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons, with results and recommendations reported to the patient and their primary care physician. A dedicated Nurse Navigator coordinates the scans, makes sure patients receive and understand the results and makes sure they get the proper follow up care. We maintain a database to track scan results, ensure that those results are communicated to the patient and their doctor and that the appropriate follow up care is obtained. In other words, we make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Our patients’ lives depend on it.
CT scans can be expensive, but because patients must pay out of pocket, we decided to offer the scans at a cost of $99. The expert multidisciplinary team review and services of the Nurse Navigator are included in that fee. You may see CT Lung Screening offered at the same or lower price, but it is not the same. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. You deserve the best care possible. It’s what we at FMH strive for every day.
No doctor’s order is needed for this test. If you fit the criteria above and you’re concerned about your risk for lung cancer, call 301-694-LUNG (5864) for a preliminary telephone screening and — if appropriate — to schedule your appointment.