Patient Education Presentation
Lung Cancer Screening, Diagnosis and the Latest Treatment Options
Memorial Hermann-TMC affiliated cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Philip Rascoe discusses lung cancer screening, diagnosis and the latest treatment options available for the treatment of lung cancer.
Did You Know?
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It is the most common cancer in men and women combined after skin cancer.
- Lung cancer kills 160,000 Americans every year - more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
- More than 220,000 people get diagnosed with lung cancer every year.
- Tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes, now or in the past
- 90% of lung cancer patients are current or former smokers.
- Second-hand smoke exposure. Second-hand smoke exposure increases chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
- Exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel or other substances in the workplace
- Exposure to radon, which can be found in the home as well as in the workplace
- Family history of lung cancer
Low-Dose CT (LDCT) Lung Cancer Screening and Monitoring
Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) is an effective tool in screening for lung cancer and
should be done before there are any symptoms. The goal of an LDCT lung
screening is to save lives. Without this screening test, lung cancer is usually
not found until a person develops symptoms. At that time, the cancer is
much harder to treat. This quick, non-invasive procedure looks for abnormal lesions that could be a potential cancer. Screening with low-dose CT has been shown in the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) to reduce by 20 percent the risk of death from lung cancer among current or former smokers, aged 55 to 77 who have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years (a pack year is equal to one pack or 20 cigarettes a day for one year) The lung nodule program monitors abnormal lesions detected on the CT scan to discover cancer at the earliest possible stage. A specialist in the disease of lungs determines what additional tests are needed to diagnose potential lung cancer.
Who should get an LDCT lung screening exam?
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), LDCT lung screening is recommended for groups of people who are at high risk of lung cancer. High-risk patients fit the following criteria:
- Are aged 55-77 and
- Currently, or in the past, have smoked at least one pack a day for 30 years or
- Are a current smoker or one who has quit within the last 15 years
- Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
Health outcomes, benefits and risks are important for your physician to consider when recommending an LDCT lung screening. Not all those who smoke may fit the criteria necessary for screening. Your healthcare provider or a Lung Nurse Navigator at one of our screening locations can help you determine if you fit the criteria appropriate for receiving an LDCT lung screening.
At Memorial Hermann your lung cancer screening will include:
- Shared decision-making appointment with a pulmonologist to help you decide whether lung screening is the right choice.
- Low-dose CT Scan for imaging and interpretation by board certified radiologist.
- Prompt, reliable follow-up of screening detected nodules facilitated by an oncology nurse navigator.
- Smoking cessation counseling.
- Multidisciplinary input from our experienced team of specialist in pulmonary medicine, diagnostic radiology, thoracic surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology.
How much does the screening cost?
Most insurance plans will cover the screening if you fit one of the high-risk categories. For patients whose insurance does not cover the screening, we offer it at an all-inclusive, cash price of $150. Any additional testing you may need, based on the results from the screening, will be billed to your insurance.
Lung Cancer Diagnosis
If the CT scan detects an abnormal finding,the lung cancer program at Memorial Hermann is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to diagnose lung cancer:
Using these advanced technologies, diagnosis and staging can be performed in a single procedure. The procedure begins with a biopsy, analyzed immediately by an on-site pathologist to determine whether or not a mass is malignant. If it is, the pulmonary interventional oncologist “stages” the cancer – determines its exact size, location and the extent to which it may have spread beyond the lungs – without a follow-up procedure.
Multi-disciplinary Lung Nodule Program
The Lung Nodule Program at Memorial Hermann brings a multi-disciplinary team together to expedite the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of lung nodules and lesions. The team collaboratively reviews each case and, following a lung cancer diagnosis, recommends the best treatment option for each patient. Challenging cases are addressed by tumor boards where physicians meet to discuss treatment options and create clear, consistent plans for patients. The multi-disciplinary team is made up of affiliated:
- Diagnostic, vascular and interventional radiologists
- Medical oncologists
- Radiation oncologists
- Thoracic surgeons
Early stage lung cancer is treated with curative surgery performed by thoracic surgeons who specialize in doing these procedures. For those patients who are unable to undergo lung surgery Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SBRT) is also available. Treatment options in later stages may include one or a combination of therapies:
- Surgery – lobectomy (removing part of the lung) or pneumonectomy (removing the entire lung)
- Radiation- Including Intensity-Modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
- Chemotherapy and targeted drugs – including genetic profiling and next-generation sequencing (NSG) to identify specifically targeted therapies
In addition, our affiliation with UTHealth provides qualifying patients with access to clinical trials that further expand treatment options.
The lung cancer team also provides early palliative care for advanced lung cancer patients – treatment that relieves discomfort, symptoms and stress. Studies have shown that this approach not only improves quality of life, it also prolongs it. Doctors also work with patients to establish advanced directives and identify goals for care.
During and after treatment, specialized lung cancer support groups give patients, survivors and their families’ assistance addressing emotional needs and healthy lifestyle choices. Patients are also cared for by a team of skilled professionals in the areas of interventional and diagnostic imaging, nutritional counseling and weight-loss management, a social worker as well as an oncology nurse navigator who will help guide the patient through every step of their treatment and keep open lines of communication with the referring physician on the patient's treatment plan.
Where can I find help to quit smoking?
The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. For help on quitting smoking, please call the American Cancer Society at 1.800.227.2345 or call 713-222-CARE to enroll in the next Memorial Hermann-sponsored tobacco cessation program. You can also go to yesquit.org for more information and support.