Lung Cancer Screening (ELCAP) for Current and Former Smokers
Low Dose Spiral CT scanning has been available to current and former smokers through the Swedish Lung Cancer Screening Program since August 2000. This program is offered by the Swedish Cancer Institute and Seattle Radiologists.
Who can participate in the Swedish Lung Cancer Screening Program?
We are offering spiral CT lung-cancer screening to individuals who agree to clinical study requirements and meet certain criteria. Candidates must be:
- Aged 40 or older
- Current or former smokers with at least 20 "pack years" of smoking history
- People who have a primary-care physician (we can help you find a doctor, if needed)
- Willing to complete a brief health-history checklist
- Fit enough to undergo surgery
- People with no recent symptoms associated with lung cancer
How much does the screening test cost?
Spiral CT scans for lung-cancer screening are not currently reimbursed by most insurance plans. The $300 fee represents a substantial reduction in customary charges and is due at the time of the appointment.
How do I schedule a test or get more information?
We would be happy to talk with you further about this program. For more information, call our office at (206) 292-7700; e-mail inquiries: email@example.com
The International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP)
Researchers at Cornell University have been coordinating a multi-institutional study called the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP), of which the Swedish Lung Cancer Screening Program is a member. The mission of I-ELCAP is to enhance the capacity of worldwide health-care leaders to rapidly obtain sufficient information to improve cure rate for lung cancer through organized and integrated shared knowledge, innovative solutions and clinical insights. Learn more at http://www.ielcap.org/
Why would I consider spiral CT for lung-cancer screening?
A landmark publication in 1999 by Cornell University reported results of a study of 1,000 asymptomatic current and former smokers screened with spiral CT scans. The investigators found a significant number of early stage lung cancers that were too tiny to show up on traditional X-rays. Nearly 10,000 patients have now been screened through the Cornell program and the initial findings have held up. It is important to note that these study results, while encouraging, are preliminary and that it has not been proven that a low-dose screening CT of the lungs saves lives.
This test can reveal tiny nodules in your lungs that may represent early stage lung cancer.
Lung-cancer tumors are typically about the size of a dime by the time they are discovered on a chest X-ray, and by then the cancer cells are likely to have spread to other parts of the body. In comparison, the CT scan can show cancerous abnormalities that are no larger than a grain of rice. The CT scan also takes multiple cross-sectional images of your lungs, giving physicians a better view of your lungs than a chest X-ray.
Identifying lung cancer early is vital because success rates for treating the disease at this stage are much higher than that of late-stage lung cancer. For example, only about 12 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer this year will still be alive in five years. However, if the disease is caught at a very early stage, as many as 80 percent of lung-cancer patients may survive five years or more.
What happens during the test, and how long does it take?
You should allow at least 30 minutes for the entire appointment, but you will be in the CT room for only five to 10 minutes. The actual scanning time is less than one minute. Radiation exposure from the scan is minimal, similar to that of a mammogram. The test, which is simple and painless, requires that you lie down on a special exam table. Within a few seconds, the CT scan will take multiple pictures of your lungs.
When will I find out the results?
An experienced radiologist will carefully examine your scan. If it is determined to be normal, the study coordinator will send the results, usually within a week.
What if an abnormality is found?
If your scan is determined to be abnormal, we will promptly inform you and your doctor. One of the study physicians will personally speak to your doctor about your situation and discuss recommendations for follow-up.
Clarifying the findings frequently requires an additional diagnostic CT scan. Subsequent diagnostic testing is covered by most insurance plans. Please keep in mind that most abnormalities will not turn out to be lung cancer.
Landmark Study Findings
Ralph W. Aye, M.D.
Swedish Cancer Institute
Kristin Manning, M.D.
Michael J. Peters, M.D.