Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women, at about 25 percent of all cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. This is more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
Mount Nittany Health is dedicated to helping patients at-risk for lung cancer by providing high quality care and services through its lung cancer screening program and lung nodule program, located at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Mount Nittany Medical Center is proud and honored to have been designated a Screening Center of Excellence by Go2 Foundation for Lung Cancer and UPMC Health Plan for its ongoing commitment to responsible lung cancer screening.
“Lung cancer screening and lung nodule programs allow us to provide quality, evidence-based care for our community,” says Gregory Ruff, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Pulmonary Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and critical care department, Mount Nittany Medical Center. “Patients with lung cancer typically don’t have any signs or symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. Having the resources to detect cancer at an earlier stage offers many options for treatment including potential for cure. ”
Facilities designated as Screening Centers of Excellence are committed to providing high quality low-dose computed tomography (low-dose CT) screening for early detection of lung cancer. To receive the Screening Centers of Excellence designation, facilities must provide clear and current information on the risks and benefits of CT screening, as well as comply with comprehensive best practice standards for controlling screening quality, radiation dose and diagnostic procedures within an experienced, multidisciplinary setting.
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both of the lungs that can spread to other parts of the body including the liver, brain or bones. The best way to help reduce the risk of getting lung cancer is to quit smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the most common risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other tobacco products is the cause of approximately 80-90 percent of lung cancer deaths. Other risk factors that contribute to the cause of lung cancer include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, air pollution and family history of lung cancer.
Most lung cancers do not cause any signs or symptoms until the cancer has spread or is in its later stages, making it more difficult to treat. Therefore, early detection is key in battling against lung cancer. Low-dose CT scans have proven to be an effective method to detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages before a person starts showing symptoms, which allows for better treatment options and outcomes. Low-dose CT scans can detect small nodules, a small area of abnormal tissue, in the lungs that may be cancer. The screening is painless and non-invasive. It uses up to 90 percent less ionizing radiation than regular CT scans and leaves no radiation remains in the body after the scan. For those at higher risk, getting yearly low-dose CT scans before symptoms start can help lower the risk of dying from lung cancer.
“The lung cancer screening program gives our patients the opportunity to play an active role in their lung health,” shares Adrienne Wise, RRT, lung nodule program coordinator, Mount Nittany Health. “I believe it also helps to change the stigma we associate with lung cancer, and by offering these exams to our patients we are giving them the best chance at survival.”
In addition to offering low-dose CT lung cancer screenings, Mount Nittany Health also has a lung nodule program, which is a service made possible by a lead gift from Lloyd and Dottie Huck to the Mount Nittany Health Foundation. The lung nodule program is dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals in central Pennsylvania by providing early detection of lung cancer and using evidence-based best practices in lung nodule care and management through a multidisciplinary healthcare team approach.
As the lung nodule program coordinator, Wise is responsible for tracking and monitoring the progress and results of all the patients in the lung cancer screening and lung nodule programs to ensure that necessary follow up is communicated and completed on schedule. Wise works closely with the patients and their families, providing necessary education of the disease, staging, and treatment options, as well as guiding them through each step of the process to help ensure seamless continuity of care.
“Being able to help patients through the management and monitoring of a lung nodule is a rewarding experience,” shares Wise. “I am able to take what might be a very scary situation for someone and make it less threatening.”
For more information about these programs and for resources on how to quit smoking, visit mountnittany.org/LCS, or call 814.231.6881.