The Mohawk Valley Health System has begun a program of screening and monitoring long-term heavy smokers and others at heightened risk for lung cancer.
The Lung Nodule Program begun in April is named for small growths in the lungs that are common and mostly noncancerous. However, certain risk factors heighten cancer risk and trigger a recommendation for an annual low-dose CT scan to monitor long nodules.
If a patient is age 55-80, is a current smoker or former smoker who quit within the past 15 years, and is a 30 pack-year smoker — smoked a pack a day for 30 years or two packs for 15 years, for example — they meet criteria for lung cancer screening. If they meet this criteria, they can ask their primary care provider to refer them to the Lung Nodule Program for lung cancer screening, or they could call 877-909-LUNG (5864) themselves and have the low-dose CT ordered. Medicare and most insurance plays pay for the low-dose CT, according to MVHS.
By joining the lung nodule program, patients work with a lung nurse navigator, who is overseen by physicians experienced in the screening and diagnosing of lung cancer. The nurse navigator helps keep patients on track and moving through the various steps to treatment.