Task force findings back Tuality’s Lung Cancer Screening Program

July 30, 2013

For immediate release
Contact:  Gerry Ewing / 503-681-1654

Tuality Healthcare’s innovative Lung Cancer Screening Program, the only one of its kind in the Portland metro area, received a nice boost from an influential government panel regarding low dose CT scans and there use in diagnosing early stage lung cancer.

After extensive review of the current evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that older smokers at high risk of lung cancer should receive annual low-dose CT scans. The panel said the benefits to smokers in the 55 to 79 age group far outweigh the risks associated with a CT scan.

Tuality has been ahead of the curve regarding low-dose CT scans and lung cancer. The hospital started its Lung Cancer Screening Program in June under the direction of Drs. Peter Hahn and Srinivas Mummadi. This procedure uses low radiation dose CT scans instead of traditional chest X-rays to diagnose lung cancer in a very specific segment of the population – long-term smokers in the 55 to 79 age group.

“We’re pleased with the news that validates our program,” said Hahn, a pulmonologist and Tuality’s medical director of critical care and sleep medicine. “We firmly believe that low-dose CT scans can allow us to diagnose lung cancer in an early, treatable stage.”

The task force said that current and former smokers aged 55 to 79 with a 30 “pack-year” history of smoking and who have smoked in the last 15 years should receive an annual low-dose CT scans. The term 30 “pack-year” refers to a person who has smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Another consideration is the person undergoing the CT scan should be in good health, making them a good candidate for surgery should cancer be found.

“By diagnosing lung cancer in its earliest stages, we can actually save lives,” said Mummadi. “We can cure lung cancer in 80 percent of cases diagnosed in the earliest stages by following these guidelines.”

The panel estimates that 20,000 of the United States' nearly 160,000 annual lung cancer deaths could be prevented under the new guidelines.

Tuality Healthcare’s program started on June 6. The program consists of the low-dose CT scan, consultation with a pulmonologist to review the results, and a visit with a nicotine dependence counselor. Most private insurers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) do not pay screening at this time. However, it is expected that insurance coverage will be widely available in the near future. The entire program will take less than 4 hours to complete. Funding for the Lung Cancer Screening Program and much of the necessary equipment was supplied by the Tuality Healthcare Foundation.

Lung cancer screening using low dose CT has been officially endorsed by the American Cancer Society, American College of Chest Physicians, and many other national cancer and lung organizations.

A CT scan is medical imaging procedure that generates a three-dimensional image that is a better diagnostic tool for doctors than the traditional chest X-ray. A low-dose CT scan reduces the amount of radiation delivered to the human body. Tuality features a new state-of-the-art 128-slice CT scanner with low-dose capability.

For more information, please call 503-681-4354.