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$50 Lung Screening CT at Harbor Hospital in Baltimore


Christine

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The National Cancer Institute reports that more than 200,000 new cases and roughly 160,000 lung cancer-related deaths have occurred in the Unites States so far this year, and an estimated 1 million worldwide deaths will occur by the end of 2007.

In Maryland, there are about 488 lung cancer diagnoses and 203 deaths a year, and the numbers are rising.

Lung cancer is the leading killer of men and women in the United States, and it causes more deaths per year than the next three most common cancers (colon, breast, and prostate) combined.

Though many of us know that regular mammograms, pap smears, and colonoscopies are screening exams for certain types of cancer, medical experts suggest that most Americans are not aware of other cancer screening options for diseases such as lung cancer.

"Screening" refers to a procedure that detects cancer at its earliest stage; and early detection and diagnosis, followed by appropriate treatment, is crucial to cancer patients' survival.

Studies show that if lung cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early, localized stage, the average five-year relative survival rate is around 49 percent. Only about 16 percent are currently diagnosed this early, however. This is partially because of the limited awareness of the availability of screening tools and procedures, as well as a lack of knowledge concerning cancer-related symptoms.

The computed tomography (CT) scan is an X-ray-like procedure that is used to detect the presence of cancer, and it can provide helpful information such as the size and location of the tumor, as well as help plan radiation therapy, surgery, or other forms of cancer treatment. The CT scan is one of the most effective and accurate procedures to detect lung cancer at an early stage.

Unlike screening processes that everyone should regularly perform such as checking your breasts for lumps or your skin for moles, CT scanning as a cancer screening process is usually performed on people who are at a higher-than-normal risk of having cancer.

Of the many causes of lung cancer, most are directly related to the use of tobacco, namely cigarette smoking and environmental tobacco smoke (or ETS), which is commonly referred to as second-hand smoke. Other causes include pollution, lung diseases, and personal history - a person who has had lung cancer once is more likely to develop it again than a person who has never had the disease. Exposure to asbestos or to the radioactive gas radon are also causes of lung cancer, and prolonged exposure to either suggests a higher risk of developing the disease.

Although CT scanning can detect lung cancer at a smaller size than other screening techniques, it is currently not covered by most insurance plans and can be very expensive.

That's why Harbor Hospital and the Harbor Hospital Foundation are partnering to offer $50 CT scans to people at high risk for lung cancer. If you are older than 50, have a history of smoking (10 years or more) or a history of exposure to asbestos and/or secondhand smoke, you may be eligible for this program.

Call 410-350-2563 for more information or to schedule your low-cost scan. This program is funded by Harbor Hospital and the Harbor Hospital Foundation.

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