Lung Cancer is the Deadliest Cancer, But it Doesn't Have to be

February 4, 2018

Lung cancer kills more Americans than the next three cancers (breast, colon and prostate) combined. Typically caught in its later stages, survival rates are often in the single digits.


St. Jude is at the forefront of changing that statistic, through state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatments — including robotic surgery to more precisely remove the cancer, a technique which St. Jude was recently recognized for being among the nation’s best.


Yet the most powerful tool in dramatically increasing survival rates may be far simpler: a low-dose CT lung screening. “Low-dose CT lung screening can detect even small lung abnormalities and is considered the gold standard in finding lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage,” explainsDaniel Oh, MD, an internationallyrespected thoracic surgeon at St. Jude who leads the hospital’s new Lung Cancer Screening Clinic. “Just as mammography and colonoscopy have significantly improved patient outcomes, routine lung screening can shift diagnosis from latestage to early, far more curable stages.”


Who should be screened? 
The clinic is designed to make screening and education easy and convenient for those most at risk of lung cancer — former or current heavy smokers. “Low-dose CT lung screening is covered by most health plans, so if you have smoked a pack a day for 20 or more years, ask your physician for a 
referral,” explains Shannon Lindop, BSN, RN, OCN, Lung Cancer Nurse Navigator. Heavy smokers who currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years should also be screened.


Despite being a covered preventive test, less than 5 percent of those who should be screened are referred by their physician. “Low-dose CT Lung screenings can identity cancer before there are any clinical signs or symptoms,” Shannon explains, “making them valuable in saving lives.”


Expert review and diagnosis 
If a lung nodule or “spot” is found, the patient’s scans and medical history are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team that includes Dr. Oh, a pulmonologist and a radiologist to determine what, if any, follow-up is needed.


“Most nodules are benign, a few require ‘watchful waiting,’ and a few require immediate testing,” Dr. Oh explains, a Harvard-trained surgeon and Medical Director of the St. Jude Center for Thoracic and Esophageal Diseases. “By using new evidence-based protocols to minimize unneeded or invasive procedures, we offer patients the right care at the right time.”


For any questions or to make an appointment, please call (714) 446-5830. A physician referral may be required, please check with you health plan.

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