Photo above: Beaufort Memorial kicked off breast cancer awareness month last weekend with Pink Yoga in the Kate Gleason Park. Over 40 people joined the hospital’s Breast Health Center and the LifeFit Wellness Center staffs for the free event. For more on the topic of breast cancer, see page B1. Photo provided.
BMH offering life-saving lung cancer screening
Beaufort Memorial Hospital is now offering a new lung cancer screening clinically proven to reduce the risk of dying from the disease.
Low dose computed tomography (LDCT) is the only diagnostic medical test endorsed by both the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Radiology. It is recommended for current and former heavy smokers between 55 and 77 years of age.
“Approximately 85 percent of lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking,” said Matthew Hurtt, Beaufort Memorial’s advanced imaging manager and LDCT program coordinator. “Early detection is especially important with lung cancer because by the time you have symptoms of the disease, the cancer has usually metastasized and is much more difficult to treat.”
The five-year survival rate for lung cancer that has spread to other organs is only 4 percent. When the disease is localized, the survival rate increases to 55 percent. But only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage, according to the American Lung Association.
LDCT scans of the chest provide more detailed images of the chest than X-rays and are better at finding abnormal areas in the lungs.
A national clinical trial of people at high risk of lung cancer found that those receiving annual LDCT screens reduced their risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent compared to smokers who were screened using an X-ray.
“CT scans allow doctors to visualize subtle abnormalities that may not be apparent on regular X-rays,” said board-certified Beaufort Memorial radiologist Dr. Phillip Blalock. “Over the years, the technology has improved to minimize the radiation exposure and still produce a good image.”
The test is quick, painless and exposes patients to a minimal amount of radiation. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies cover LDCT once a year with a physician referral.
The annual screening is recommended for adults who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years and have a smoking history of at least 30 “pack years,” meaning those who smoked a pack a day for 30 years or any combination of packs and years totaling 30.
One of the first hospitals in the area to offer the lung cancer screening program, Beaufort Memorial recently received the designation of Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance for providing safe, high-quality low dose lung CT.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S., claiming some 156,000 lives each year – more than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Half of patients with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed.
For more information on LDCT lung cancer screening, call 843-522-LUNG (5864).