MANKATO, Minn. — We each take about 20,000 breaths a day. So, it’s easy to see why lung cancer can significantly impact your overall health — it can literally take your breath away. To help with early detection of lung cancer, Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato recently launched a lung screening program. This program is already available at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as well as Mayo Clinic Health System locations in La Crosse and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Currently, without screening, catching lung cancer early enough to improve outcomes is difficult.
“People who have lung cancer often don’t even know it,” says Jamil Taji, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato pulmonologist. “Symptoms of cough, chest pain, coughing up blood or weight loss may not appear until the cancer is in a late stage. In all cancers, and especially in lung cancer, time is life. The earlier cancer is found, the more likely that person will survive.”
The screening starts with a simple phone call with a specialized nurse practitioner. This first step determines whether a patient qualifies for the screening. If the patient meets necessary criteria, a face-to-face visit is arranged to discuss the screening in more detail. Depending on that conversation, the nurse practitioner may order a CT scan.
The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), a cancer screening clinical trial, compared the effect of two ways of detecting lung cancer — low radiation CT scan and standard chest X-ray — on the chance of dying of lung cancer. Researchers found approximately 15 to 20 percent fewer patients died from lung cancer among trial participants who were screened with low dose CT. That’s almost one in five people whose life changed because of the screening.
“CT has been in clinical use since the mid-1970s. Lung screening is now feasible due to technical advances that allow quick scanning at a low dose of radiation,” adds Dr. Taji. “This new screening program will help us increase survival rates in those at risk of getting lung cancer by making the diagnosis earlier.”
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. In 2015, about 221,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed. An estimated 158,000 people will die from lung cancer. Never smoking or stopping smoking is the best way to prevent lung cancer.
Call 507-385-5965 to schedule an appointment.
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 60 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.