St. Elizabeth Healthcare Brings Awareness to Early Lung Cancer Detection
Lung cancer screening saves lives! In fact, the St. Elizabeth Lung Cancer Screening Program has found one lung cancer for every 62 screenings performed since its inception in 2013. Our team has discovered over 570 lung cancers, one lung cancer for every 28 patients screened. That equates to over 400 lives profoundly impacted.
This Nov. 11, in partnership with the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology, St. Elizabeth Healthcare is proud to support the second annual National Lung Cancer Screening Day, a day dedicated to making convenient lung cancer screening services accessible to our community.
Why is this so crucial? “One of the most important reasons to get screened is because lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths,” says Michael R. Gieske, MD, Director of Lung Cancer Screening at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Each year, it claims the lives of 127,000 Americans; however, fewer than one in 10 individuals at high risk for lung cancer get screened.
Early detection and careful team-based management is the key to improved survival. “If lung cancer is found early with lung cancer screening, it is highly curable generally with a minimally invasive robotic-assisted lung resection,” says Royce Calhoun, MD, a thoracic surgeon at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
Many people are often too busy to get screened during the weekdays. “Participating in the National Lung Cancer Screening Day allows us to be open on Saturday, Nov. 11, making it easier for those unable to access screenings during the week and increasing community-wide access to life-saving screenings,” says Dr. Calhoun.
The President’s Cancer Panel recommends lung cancer screenings as the single most effective way to reduce the risk of death from the disease and close the gap to improve health equity and access. “I’m passionate about bringing lung cancer awareness to the forefront, catching the disease early, and turning the often-dire diagnosis of lung cancer on its head with the lung cancer CT screening for at-risk patients,” says Dr. Calhoun.
One of our heroes is Mary Leonard, a73-year-old resident of the Florence-Union area. Mary loves staying active by playing golf, bingo, and gardening. As an individual with a long smoking history, Mary understands the benefit of early lung cancer screenings at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “In fact, she was our 20,000th lung cancer screen through St. Elizabeth,” says Dr. Gieske. “We have now performed over 37,000 lung cancer screens.”
Mary says, “It’s so easy to get screened. It’s harder to go to the dentist! I think everyone should get screened. For me, it brings peace of mind when I get the all-clear results. But if I would get lung cancer by chance, at least we would catch it early when it’s easiest to treat.” Next month, she will have her 6th annual screening, as she realizes the importance of adhering to the annual protocol.
Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate, but tobacco use and radon exposure are two of the highest risk factors. Lung cancer screenings can detect cancers earlier when they are easier to treat.
Be aware of these signs and symptoms:
- A cough that doesn’t go away.
- Shortness of breath.
- Hoarseness that won’t go away.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Infections like pneumonia or bronchitis that won’t go away.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Coughing up blood.
“To date, our program has found 60.4% in stage I lung cancer and 80.4% collectively in early stages I and II, which have the most favorable outcomes,” says Dr. Gieske. St. Elizabeth also ranks in the top 4% of healthcare systems in the country for lung cancer screening programs, according to the American College of Radiology (ACR).
“Lung cancer can be a very aggressive and fast-moving cancer that can move to advanced stages in short intervals,” says Dr. Gieske. “National guidelines recommend repeat screenings every year until a patient turns 80 or is 15 years post quit date.”
Who should consider lung cancer screening?
- Individuals between 50 and 80 years of age.
- Those with a 20-pack year history (one pack per day for 20+ years or equivalent).
- Individuals currently smoking.
- Individuals who quit within the last 15 years.
Our screening services are available at six St. Elizabeth Healthcare ACR-accredited locations – Ft. Thomas, Edgewood, Covington, Florence, Dearborn, and Grant County.
To learn more about the St. Elizabeth Lung Cancer Screening Program, take our quick quiz or talk to your primary care provider about your risk factors and screening options. Make the annual screening a habit if you have a qualifying history of smoking. Your health matters and early detection saves lives!