Lung Cancer Screening offered throughout Penn Highlands Healthcare

November 24, 2014

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States, causing more deaths than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

Penn Highlands Healthcare is now offering CT lung cancer screenings for a fee to those who may be concerned and meet the screening criteria. These patients can sign up without a doctor’s consent, and some insurances may cover the cost.

The lung cancer screening is done using low-dose radiation CT scan at any of the four Penn Highlands hospitals – PH DuBois, PH Brookville, PH Clearfield and PH Elk. It takes about 15-20 minute, is painless and there is no dye used. 

Why? “Catching cancer early allows for better results. Lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms in the earlier stages of the disease. So someone can have it and never know it. And even when symptoms do show up, some symptoms of lung cancer may not seem related to the lungs or breathing,” said Susan Mitchell, clinical director and nurse practitioner at The Lung Center at Penn Highlands DuBois.

The common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time;
  • Constant chest pain;
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness;
  • Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis;
  • Swelling of the neck and face;
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss;
  • Fatigue.

“In high-risk populations, CT lung cancer screenings can reduce the chance of lung cancer related death by up to 20 percent” said Dr. Sandeep Bansal, interventional pulmonologist and medical director of The Lung Center and the Intensive Care Services at PH DuBois.

To be a candidate for the CT lung screening, a person should be either:

• 55-80 years old with at least a 30 “pack year” smoking history who continues to smoke, or who quit smoking less than 15 years ago. A “pack year” is a year that a person smoked 20 cigarettes, or one pack, every day for a year. For example, smoking one pack per day for 5 years equals “5 pack years.”

• 50 years or older with at least 20 pack years or more than one of the following risk factors: long-term exposure to asbestos, asbestos-related lung disease, chorionic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, family history of lung cancer, long-term exposure to silica, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, diesel fumes, nickel, coal smoke or soot.

Results of the scan will be sent to the patients, their doctors if requested and the Lung Center for review. If there is a question and follow up is needed, the nurse navigator, Candy Cole, RN, will guide a patient through the next steps. She will provide education and answer questions.

How does one sign up? For more information about this screening, to schedule an appointment, or to learn more about insurance coverage for screening, patients may call the Lung Center at 375-3770 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.