Lung Screenings Can Save Lives
PGA pro Jason Day recently lost his mother, his biggest supporter, to lung cancer. Lung cancer is a disease Dening Day battled for several years, and it is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. This fact underscores the importance of finding and treating cancer early. When found early, lung cancer can be treated successfully, even cured.
There are often no symptoms associated with lung cancer, and this makes it very difficult for people to realize that something is wrong. Most often, early stage lung cancer can be best detected through lung screenings.
If there are symptoms, they can include:
- A new cough
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Loss of weight without trying
- Bone pain
What is a lung screening?
Lung screenings are ordered by physicians and are recommended for those ages 50 to 80 who have at least a 20-pack-year smoking history. Candidates must be smokers or former smokers who quit within the past 15 years and who do not exhibit symptoms of lung cancer.
These screenings consist of a low dose CT scan that uses less than 25 percent of the radiation in a standard CT scan. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes to complete, and it is covered by most private insurances, Medicare and Medicaid for those who are considered high risk.
Middlesex Health is designated as a Lung Cancer Screening Center of Excellence. This means that Middlesex is committed to responsible, high-quality screening practices, and it ensures that the low-dose CT scans used to screen for lung cancer are carried out safely, efficiently and equitably.
In 2021, Middlesex Health performed 1,489 annual lung screenings and at least 340 lung patients received nurse navigator services through the Total Lung Care Center at Middlesex Health Cancer Center. Over the past three years, the center has followed more than 1,000 patients who are at high risk for lung cancer to ensure they get cared for appropriately, and that number continues to grow.
“It is so important to keep up with your cancer screenings — even during a pandemic,” Dr. Justin Goralnik, a pulmonologist who serves as medical director of Middlesex Health’s Total Lung Care Center. “If you qualify, I urge you to get your annual lung screening to ensure that you remain healthy and able to play golf for years to come.”
Worth noting: Early lung cancer can also be detected when a suspicious lesion is found by a radiologist during the reading of a diagnostic test, such as a CT scan, that a patient was having for a different medical issue. Regardless of how they are detected, it is very important that you follow your medical provider’s recommendations regarding any findings.
What is the Total Lung Care Center?
The Total Lung Care Center, a program within the Middlesex Health Cancer Center, works with primary care physicians; radiologists and nurse navigators to coordinate an expedited care plan to assure that all lesions are promptly addressed. The goal is to always get you an appointment with a Middlesex Health pulmonologist as soon as possible.
A timely diagnosis is very important because it allows lung cancer to be treated at an earlier stage. If your lesion is determined to be cancerous, you may need additional care and treatment. The Total Lung Care Center’s nurse navigator will guide and support you through all aspects of lung cancer care—from diagnosis to survivorship.
For more information about lung cancer and lung cancer screenings, click here.
Justin G. Goralnik, MD
Specialties / Areas of Care
- Pulmonary Medicine (Lung Disease/Asthma)
- Middletown, CT
- Westbrook, CT
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