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AHN Cancer Institute Emphasizes Importance of CT Screening During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Thursday, November 1, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA.  - Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the U.S. During November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cancer Institute reminds western Pennsylvania residents that low-dose CT screening is an effective tool that can detect lung cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most curable.

Low-dose CT screening is available to some people ages 55 to 80 with a history of smoking. AHN typically performs about 2,000 such screenings each year, but clinicians believe many more western Pennsylvanians who could benefit from the screenings don’t take advantage.

This year, through September, AHN has screened more than 1,500 people for lung cancer. Eighteen lung cancers were detected, and a few other cancers as well.

“Those people have a good shot at a cure for their cancer, because it was detected at an early stage,” said Jeffrey Mueller, MD, System Vice Chairman, Department of Radiology and Division Director, Cardiothoracic Imaging, AHN. “Too often, by the time lung cancer causes symptoms, it is at a later stage, and far less likely to be treatable. The overall five-year survival rate for lung cancer is only about 20 percent without screening.”

“We’re happy that so many people have taken advantage of low-dose CT screening, but we believe there are many more western Pennsylvanians who could benefit,” Dr. Mueller said. “In some Mon Valley communities, for example, 30 to 40 percent of adults smoke, compared to a 15 percent average nationwide.

“It’s never too late for longtime smokers to quit,” Dr. Mueller added. “Smokers who sign up for lung cancer screening will be provided with information on smoking cessation programs, and others who are interested can speak to their primary care provider about tools that can help them stop smoking.”

The test is non-invasive and painless, and takes just minutes. Insurances typically cover it, though the extent of coverage may vary by plan. Patients need to be referred for the test by a primary care provider.

Anyone with questions about low-dose CT screening for lung cancer can call 844-AHN-LUNG (246-5864) for more information. For an appointment with a primary care doctor, call 412-DOCTORS (362-8677).

AHN’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month activities also include:

Free cancer screenings Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Allegheny Valley Hospital, 1301 Carlisle St., Natrona Heights. Screenings available, with age ranges, are: lung cancer (55-80 with a history of smoking), colorectal (45-75), breast clinical exam (25 and up) and mammogram (40-70); cervical cancer (21-65), and skin cancer (18 and up). Preregistration is required and can be made by calling 412-469-7002.

“Shine a Light on Lung Cancer” is an inspirational and educational event for lung cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. Doctors will be available to answer questions, art by Lilly Oncology will be displayed and light refreshments will be served. The group in unison will turn on small lights to symbolize increased awareness of lung cancer. The events are Nov. 19 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Jefferson Hospital, 565 Coal Valley Road, Jefferson Hills in the main lobby, and Nov. 27 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Allegheny General Hospital Cancer Center, 320 E. North Ave. on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Registration is not required.