HOUSTON (March 24, 2015)

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 150,000 people will die of lung cancer this year. Early detection and treatment are key to fighting the disease, but many patients do not find out they have lung cancer until it is too late.

Thankfully, advances have been made in early detection of lung cancer and Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Memorial City is leading the charge in West Houston with its recently opened Lung Cancer Screening Program.

The program relies on a multidisciplinary approach, advanced imaging technology and minimally invasive procedures to identify and treat patients with lung nodules. The goal is to detect lung nodules and potential lung cancer at an early stage when the disease is more treatable and curable. “It is very exciting to be a part of this new, collaborative multidisciplinary team approach to provide early answers for patients with lung cancer nodules,” said Dr. Kiran Nair, a Pulmonologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City. “Because of the serious prognosis of lung cancer, the goal of this program is to enable patients to undergo diagnostic testing, diagnosis, staging and consultation – with a treatment plan if necessary – under guidance by our Lung Nurse Navigator.”

Lung cancer typically does not cause symptoms in its early stages. A persistent cough, coughing up blood, wheezing, shortness of breath, recurrent pneumonia, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, and bloody or rust-colored mucus may be signs of lung cancer. Since lung cancer is difficult to detect in its earliest stages, it’s not often discovered until it has spread to other tissues or organs. The good news is the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently issued its final recommendation approving low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung screenings for those at high risk of developing lung cancer. A low-dose CT is a test that takes detailed pictures inside of the lungs. The amount of radiation used is lower than standard chest CT scans. “A low-dose CT has proven to be useful in the early detection of lung cancer,” added Dr Nair.

Up to 90 percent of all lung cancers are thought to result from smoking. In addition to cigarette smoking, cigar smoking increases risk. Non-smokers who are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke also face an increased risk. Other risk factors include: exposure to asbestos, radon, or ionizing radiation and lung scarring from chronic infections.

To learn more about the Lung Cancer Screening Program at Memorial Hermann Memorial City, call 713.242.3564.