Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton initiated a lung cancer screening program for high-risk smokers and former smokers in July.
According to the 2012 Community Health Assessment conducted by the Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership, lung cancer to be the leading cause of cancer death in Mercer County.
RWJ Hamilton’s screening is a low-dose computed tomography scan used to detect tumors.
The National Lung Screening Trial helped determine criteria for the screening. To qualify, individuals must have a “30-pack year” history of smoking. A “pack year” is the number of cigarette packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years smoked. For example, someone who smokes two packs a day for 15 years would qualify.
Additionally, individuals must be at least 45 years old and are either currently smoking or have quit within the past 15 years.
Compared with the previous standard, a chest x-ray, low dose CT scans allow for detection of cancer at an earlier stage; when it is more likely to be curable. A NLST study showed dramatic improvement the survival rate.
Typically, this screening is not covered by insurance companies. RWJ Hamilton is offering the scan at a reduced rate to encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested. A scan is $99.
More information is online at rwjhamilton.org.