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Quitting Smoking was Hard. Screening is Easy.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer- related deaths in the United States – causing nearly as many deaths each year as prostate, breast and colon cancers combined. Don’t be a statistic. A lung cancer screening can be lifesaving.

This past fall, board-certified medical oncologist and director of the lung health program at CalvertHealth Dr. Arati Patel had the opportunity to participate in a Duke Health roundtable discussion on the importance of lung cancer screening.

She went on to add, “The test itself is quick, painless and covered by insurance. Additionally, the health department has grant funding to provide lung cancer screenings for qualifying individuals at no cost.”

New Guidelines Designed to Catch More Cases Early

In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new guidelines for lung cancer screening with low-dose computer tomography (CT). Dr. Patel shared the ultimate goal was to detect more lung cancers in earlier stages, when treatment options have a better chance to produce positive outcomes. “Detecting lung cancer early not only saves lives, but improves the effectiveness of our treatments,” said Dr. Patel.

In 2023, nearly 240,000 cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. Of those, more than 127,000 resulted in death. Screening for lung cancer improves survival, but according to the American Lung Association, only 5.8% of eligible Americans have been screened. In Maryland, that number is 6.9%. “We have tremendous options for state-of-the-art treatments at our fingertips, but we need at-risk individuals to pursue screening,” said Dr. Patel. “Lung cancer is one of the more deadly cancers because symptoms don’t usually appear until late in the course of the disease, so it’s important to get screened early on – even though it is unlikely patients will have any symptoms.”

Early Diagnosis Increases Survivability

Prior to the introduction of low-dose CT, the vast majority of lung cancer cases have historically been found at later stages. “If someone is detected with lung cancer at an advanced stage, their likelihood of surviving five years is very low, roughly 20 percent,” said Dr. Patel. “On the other hand, if it is detected at an early stage, their likelihood of surviving five years goes up dramatically to 60-90 percent. This is why screening high-risk patients early on can make such a difference.”

The lung cancer screening, which is covered by insurance (including Medicare), is part of a multifaceted effort by CalvertHealth Medical Center (CHMC) in collaboration with American Radiology Services|Calvert Medical Imaging Center and Chesapeake Potomac Regional Cancer Center.

“We are laser-focused on helping individuals go through this process from start to finish,” said Dr. Patel. The joint program also includes a nurse navigator to help guide patients through the process, a high-risk clinic to provide patient education and counseling and a multidisciplinary thoracic team to develop individualized care plans for patients.

The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT in adults aged 50 to 80 who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. To learn more about lung cancer screening or the lung health program at CalvertHealth, scan the QR Code above or call 410.414.4575.

CalvertHealth + Duke Health
A Powerful Combination Against Cancer.

The Duke Cancer Network is backed by the resources of the Duke Cancer Institute, ranked among the top four percent of U.S. centers designated as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Having the ability to access the tremendous educational resources of Duke Cancer Network for our entire team is an incredible opportunity,” said Dr. Patel.

“Oncology is a field of medicine that is rapidly changing. Being able to learn from some of the country’s top researchers and investigators who are studying cancer every day will directly impact our ability to bring exceptional care to our patients and our community.”

Why Duke Health?

The affliation provides CalvertHealth patients with access to:
  • The resources of an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • The latest cancer research and leading-edge treatment advances
  • Clinical trials only available at the best cancer hospitals in the country
  • Second opinions from all types of cancer experts for treatment planning

The Duke Health Roundtable on lung cancer screenings was just one of the many opportunities for the CalvertHealth cancer team to collaborate with some of the nation’s top oncologists.

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