To step up the fight against the No. 1 cancer killer, Baptist Health Paducah is offering help to those at greatest risk for lung cancer.
As the region's only nationally accredited provider of low-dose CT lung scans, the hospital has established an easy-to-remember phone number - 270-575-LUNG (5864) - and assistance from a nurse navigator. People concerned about lung cancer, especially those with a history of smoking, are encouraged to phone for information.
Hospital president William A. Brown said the screenings are part of the hospital's comprehensive cancer care program, celebrating its 50th year with the opening of the region's only cancer care center in June. "We are committed to educating people about lung screenings as part of being a nationally accredited cancer care center," he said.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Nicholas Lopez said lung cancer kills more people than pancreatic, breast and colon cancer combined, in part because lung cancer often doesn't have symptoms until it's too late to treat effectively.
"We must find lung cancer sooner, when treatment can be more effective," Lopez said. "Low-dose CT scans have been shown to decrease the risk of death for people over 55 with a long history of smoking."
Lopez, physician liaison for the hospital's cancer committee, offers direct advice: Stop smoking, and if you are or have been a heavy smoker, take advantage of a low-dose lung CT scan before you develop any symptoms.
Medicare and most insurance will cover the cost of the low-dose CT lung screening for people who meet these Medicare criteria:
â ¢ 55 to 77 years old
â ¢ Greater than 30-pack year smoking history (defined as smoking one pack a day for 30 years, or 2 packs a day for 15 years, or 3 packs a day for 10 years)
â ¢ Actively smoked within the last 15 years, and
â ¢ No signs or symptoms of lung cancer such as recent weight loss, hoarseness or persistent cough
If you meet the criteria, you will need a provider's orders for the painless, non-invasive test. You can talk to your doctor, or Baptist Health will set up an appointment in its lung clinic.
Lopez said the scan is especially important in our region. "Kentucky still leads the nation in the number of smokers and just received an F in the American Lung Association's 2016 'State of Tobacco Control,' " he said. "If we want to change those statistics and help save lives, it is important to counsel our patients to stop smoking and to scan those at greatest risk."
For more information, talk to a Baptist Health nurse free any time at 270-575-LUNG (5864).