Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) Offers Early Lung Cancer Screening Program

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For smokers and former smokers, the risk of getting lung cancer is much higher than for non-smokers. But high-risk smokers can breathe a sigh of relief with a program at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) that diagnoses lung problems at the earliest possible stage.

NCH’s Early Lung Cancer Screening program enables patients to find out if their lungs are cancer-free by taking a quick and painless, low-dose CT scan, which enables doctors to search for signs of cancer at an earlier stage – when lung cancer is most treatable.
Traditional X-rays provide a 2-dimensional view of the chest, showing not only the lungs, but the heart, bone and soft tissue – all of which can mask abnormalities. Low-dose CT lung scans create a detailed, 3-D image, giving doctors a clearer, unobstructed view of the lungs – and the ability to detect tiny nodules that would often not be visible on a chest X-ray.

An eight-year national benchmark study by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network and the National Cancer Institute showed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality in current or former heavy smokers whose cancer was detected with a low-dose CT scan, compared with those whose cancer was detected with a chest X-ray.

Because radiation is involved in all imaging, patients must meet the following criteria to qualify for NCH’s Early Lung Cancer Screening program:

Age 50 to 74

Smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or 2 packs a day for 15 years, OR

Smoked a pack a day for 20 years, or 2 packs a day for 10 years – along with an additional risk factor such as an immediate family member with lung cancer

Either currently smoking or quit within the past 15 years

No chest CT scan in the past year

No history of lung cancer

No signs or symptoms of lung cancer

Patients who are eligible for the screening will receive quick and painless scanning and a review of the scan by a board-certified radiologist who will look for lung nodules, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and calcified coronary arterial disease. Patients also will receive basic lung function testing by a respiratory therapist with review by a board-certified pulmonologist. For current smokers who are looking to quit, counseling classes and support groups are provided onsite an NCH.

For more information about NCH’s Early Lung Cancer Screening, visit or call 847.618.3700.

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