ThedaCare Offers Lung Cancer Screening

Low-Dose CT Scan Will Help Detect Tumors in High-Risk Patients

Longtime smokers now have a tool available from ThedaCare to help with peace of mind and prevention: A low-dose CT chest scan to ensure early detection of lung cancer tumors.

The low-dose CT scan is for former and current smokers ages 55 to 77 who have accumulated more than 30 pack years, meaning those who smoked a pack a day for at least 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years. Patients should have a discussion with their physician to determine eligibility.

The non-invasive CT scan is also conducted for other diagnostic scans, with the exception that the x-ray dose is deliberately lowered, said Richard Stonicher, director of radiology services for ThedaCare. Even with the reduced amount of radiation, the scan is able to detect small nodules.

The screening tool is the best, most advanced diagnostic tool available for lung cancer screening, enhancing the ThedaCare mission of improving the health of the communities we serve. Once patients are referred for a scan, they will be asked to continue on an annual or more frequent basis.

“We see a lot of patients who have nodules in their chest that are perfectly harmless,” Stonicher said. “Over time, we’re able to compare those images and see whether those nodules are changing. That’s how we’re able to detect cancers earlier.”

Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, claiming more lives than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined, with nearly 200,000 people diagnosed each year. National Lung Screening Trial results showed low-dose CT can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent in heavy smokers, compared with those who were screened using a chest x-ray.

Screening data from ThedaCare will be added to a national database housed by the American College of Radiology, which helps analyze lung cancer trends over time.

The scan is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans, Stonicher said. The scans are available now at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton and Encircle Health, with plans to expand to all ThedaCare sites with a CT scanner by March.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose, as well as 31 clinics in nine counties and the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.