Lung Cancer Screening Eligibility Expanded; Low-dose CT screenings offered by MHN

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Smokers age 50 and older can now be screened for lung cancer. The Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center (ECCC) and St. Mary’s Regional Lung Center (SMMC) offer screenings to eligible patients without a physician referral.

Patients can call either facility to speak to a nurse navigator who will evaluate patients for eligibility and schedule the screening. In addition, the ECCC offers a cancer screening clinic the third Monday of each month from 8 a.m. to noon.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently expanded the eligibility criteria for patients to receive low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung screenings to detect lung cancer. The criteria now include people between the ages of 50 and 77, who do not have symptoms of lung cancer, but have a history of smoking at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, are currently a smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years.

“Low-dose CT scans are recommended for current or former heavy smokers who are at high risk of lung cancer, based on the results of a study that found a 20 percent reduction in deaths among those who had low-dose CT scans rather than chest X-rays,” said Molly Brumfield, RN, BSN, MBA, OCN, manager of medical and surgical programs at the ECCC. “We developed these screenings to help qualifying individuals be screened without an initial physician referral.”

According to CMS, the risk of developing lung cancer is largely driven by age and smoking status, with smoking estimated to account for nearly 90% of all lung cancer cases.

“This potentially life-saving opportunity begins with a phone call to the nurse navigator,” said Laura Ferguson RN, MSN, FNP-BC, patient navigator, SMMC. “The navigator will evaluate patients for eligibility and schedule an appointment. We encourage former and current smokers to get screened early, as symptoms of lung cancer often don’t appear until the disease is already at an advanced stage.”

At both ECCC and SMMC, the provider conducts a patient exam and provides smoking counseling, if applicable. The patient is then scheduled for a low-dose lung screening CT. Once complete, the provider follows up with the patient to go over the results and develop a plan of care.

Lung cancer screening is covered by Medicare and by many private health insurance plans. Additionally, SMMC also provides a self-pay option of $75 for patients without insurance coverage.

To find out if you are eligible for a low-dose CT lung cancer screening, please call the ECCC at 304.399.6770 or SMMC’s Regional Cancer Center at 304.399.7457.