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Published on September 27, 2012

Help for Smokers: Abington Memorial Hospital Launches Lung Screening Program and Lung Nodule Program

ABINGTON, PA (September 27, 2012)—A recent national study showed that current or former heavy smokers who receive low-dose screening CT scans have a 20 percent decrease in mortality from lung cancer.  With that in mind, Abington Memorial Hospital is launching a new Lung Cancer Screening Program, as well as a Comprehensive Lung Nodule Management Program.

In the study, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) compared two methods of detecting lung cancer at an early stage.  Either low-dose CT or standard chest x-ray exams were performed on more than 53,000 current or former heavy smokers at 33 sites across the nation.  The study concluded that participants who had three low-dose chest CT scans over a three-year period had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from lung cancer than those who received standard chest x-rays.

“It’s exciting that we now have a diagnostic screening test for lung cancer with good results behind it,” said Mark Sundermeyer, medical oncologist, The Rosenfeld Cancer Center at Abington Memorial Hospital.  “Most lung cancer patients present for treatment at a late stage.  With this screening, we can now potentially diagnose lung cancer at an earlier stage and provide patients with more treatment options.”

Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States.  The Lung Cancer Screening Program at Abington offers patients who are at high risk for lung cancer the opportunity to be screened with low dose CT scan with a nurse navigator to guide them through the process of having any abnormal findings treated.  A multi-disciplinary team comprised of radiologists, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and primary care physicians developed the program.

The team recommends CT scans for high risk patients meeting the following criteria:

  • Current or former smokers (having quit within the past 15 years)
  • 55 to 74 years old
  • Smoking history of at least one pack a day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years
  • No history of lung cancer

At this time, most insurance companies do not cover the costs of this screening.  The Lung Screening Program at Abington Memorial Hospital charges $350 for this service.  For more information or to schedule a test, call 215-481-LUNG.

Approximately 20 percent of the time, testing will identify nodules that require further follow up CT scans or in a small number of patients, an additional diagnostic procedure.  That’s when the Comprehensive Lung Nodule Management Program can help.

Comprehensive Lung Nodule Management Program

The Comprehensive Lung Nodule Program is a one-stop approach to providing patients with a fast, convenient and comprehensive way to properly manage and treat lung nodules that have been detected.  Lung cancer frequently starts as a nodule or a small, round or oval-shaped mass in the lungs.  Almost all nodules are benign, but a small number are malignant.  Customized follow up is critical to ensure intervention at an early stage when a cure is more likely, treatment is less intensive and costs are lower.

Covered by most insurance plans, the Comprehensive Lung Nodule Management Program brings together a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, and state-of-the-art diagnostic technology to deliver care to patients with lung nodules. 

Services include:

  • Examination of the patient within days of the initial phone call
  • Complete evaluation, diagnosis and recommendations within two weeks
  • Management of follow up visits
  • Ongoing communication with referring physicians
  • Patient education
  • Coordination of care with multiple specialists from pulmonology, thoracic surgery, diagnostic radiology, pathology, respiratory therapy, medical oncology, interventional radiology, radiation oncology, pulmonary rehabilitation, physical therapy

Said Richard Snyder, M.D., pulmonologist and member of the Lung Cancer Screening and Lung Nodule Program team at Abington Memorial Hospital, “Together these programs provide high risk patients with the best option for identifying disease before symptoms present themselves.  Early detection and treatment for some types of cancer has reduced deaths.  Obviously the best prevention for lung cancer is to quit smoking or to never start in the first place, but these programs can identify and treat disease earlier in those who have engaged in this habit long term.”

The programs are coordinated by nurse navigators who help patients schedule appointments and serve as a resource for questions and concerns. To reach a nurse navigator or to learn more about the program, call 215-481-LUNG.

About Abington Memorial Hospital

Abington Memorial Hospital is a 665-bed, acute care teaching hospital with a medical staff of more than 900 physicians and more than 5,600 employees. These professionals provide medical care and health services to residents of Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

A regional provider, Abington Memorial Hospital has the only Level II accredited trauma center in Montgomery County and offers highly specialized services in cardiac care, cancer care, neurosciences, orthopaedics and maternal/child health.

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