Aug. 18-24, 2000
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Lung screening offered

Lung screening offered

By the time people are diagnosed with lung cancer, about 70 percent are already incurable, said Dr. Thomas Daniel, director for the U.Va. Healthy Lung Program. The Health System will kick off a new lung screening initiative Sept. 6 to increase early detection of lung disease in smokers and former smokers. Physicians from thoracic surgery, radiology, pulmonary medicine and the Cancer Center are working together to offer the U.Va. Healthy Lung Program in hopes of improving survival rates.

"The tragic thing is that with all our efforts, with all our improved radiation and chemotherapy and with better surgery, the cure rate has only gone from 13 to 15 percent in the last few years. I've been treating people with lung cancer for 25 years, and I'm tired of fighting those odds," said Daniel, a professor of surgery at U.Va.

The program's centerpiece is a 15-minute screening using a low-dose spiral CAT scan that can detect abnormal spots on the lungs. Patients are also tested for emphysema. Information on U.Va.'s smoking cessation program will also be offered to current smokers.

Health insurance providers do not currently cover the $300 cost for the screenings. However, if abnormalities are found, additional tests and medical care will be covered according to individual health plans.

Lung cancer is the most lethal form of cancer among men and women. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 160,000 people in the U.S. die each year from the disease, more than colon, prostate, breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined.

"Someone who smoked at least 20-pack years, meaning a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years or two packs a day for ten years, even if they quit years ago, is at risk and should be screened," Daniel said. "Screenings are not a panacea, and this is not a cure, but it's the best chance we have right now to help people survive lung cancer."

Screening appointments can be made for Monday and Wednesday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. at the University Hospital. For information, call 243-6940.


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