In an effort to catch lung cancer earlier and in more people, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) has begun a lung cancer screening program. Lung cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Cancer Registry.
Screening includes a low-dose CT scan, a service covered by Medicare, and access to smoking cessation resources.
“It’s not as simple as just doing a CT scan,” CAMC public relations officer Dale Witte wrote in an email. Other components of the program include smoking cessation education, follow-up with a nurse navigator, and the submission of screening results to an American College of Radiology registry. The submission of screening data is a Medicare requirement for continued funding and for tracking the efficacy of the program.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services approved payment for low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening earlier this year. The screening costs $99 to those not covered by insurance.
Patients are required to have a doctor’s order for screening and may have to meet other criteria such as age and smoking history in order to qualify.
West Virginia has the second highest lung cancer rate in the country, according to 2012 data from the West Virginia Department for Health and Human Resources. Recent studies, including one from the National Cancer Institute in 2010, have found low-dose helical CT scans were 15-20 percent more effective than standard chest X-rays in detecting cancer early.