TRMC introduces a new lung cancer screening program

Each year in the United States, over 200,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 160,000 people will die of the disease. / TRMC

Each year in the United States, over 200,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 160,000 people will die of the disease. More men and women die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer.

"Tobacco is the most significant risk factor for lung cancer," said Tift Regional Health System Medical Oncologist Apurva Shah, MD. "More than 80 percent of all lung cancers are related to tobacco."

Researchers have found that smoking or breathing secondhand smoke greatly increases lung cancer risk. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you've smoked. The most frequent lung cancer cases occur in people over the age of 55 who have smoked for many years.

Early detection is a proven, successful strategy to increase a patient's chance of survival with many forms of cancer. Unfortunately, lung cancer is difficult to detect in its earliest stages and often is not discovered until it has spread to other tissues or organs.

Tift Regional Health System's mission is to serve the health needs of our patient population as well as those of the community. In an effort to continue that mission, Tift Regional Medical Center is announcing a new lung cancer screening program available for a minimal fee to people who are at high risk for lung cancer.

"Lung cancer is easiest to treat when found early," said Dr. Shah. "Patients can have annual low-dose CT scans to detect early stage lung cancer much like mammography is used to detect early stages of breast cancer. These low-dose CT scans for lung cancer will save lives and patients typically need to have the scan only once per year."

The screening program is available to people ages 55â"79 who have smoked at least an average of one pack a day for 30 years," said Faye Cooper, RN, OCN, Lung Screening Navigator. "This includes current smokers or smokers who quit within the past 15 years."

Cooper added, "This program is ongoingâ"upon meeting the qualifications, a patient will receive the lung screening scan on a yearly basis, as long as they are within the age group."

A scan is taken of the patient's chest using a CT scanner. The images taken of the lungs are read by a radiologist to determine if there is a need for further evaluation. The scan time takes about 10 seconds and is painless. Through this screening program, the total cost to patients for the scan will be $198.

Lung screenings are available by appointment only. In some cases, lung screenings may not be appropriate for certain patients. If you meet the criteria for this program and would like to see if you qualify for a lung cancer screening, please call 229.353.LUNG (5864).

For more information about Tift Regional Health System, visit .

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