St. Vincent’s offering additional time for lung screenings on Nov. 12

Published 2:19 pm Monday, October 31, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton hospital will be offering low-dose lung screenings on Nov. 12 in honor of National Lung Cancer Screening Day. The imaging department, which is usually open Monday-Friday, is opening on that Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in hopes to encourage people who qualify to come get a lung screening.

St. Vincent’s Chilton has accreditation from the American College of Radiology as a lung screening site, and promoters for National Lung Cancer Screening Day made them aware of the promotion.

“We thought it would be a good thing to participate in this,” Alicia Ingram, Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton radiology department manager, said.

Lung cancer is one of the top three leading cancers (along with breast and colon cancer) that contribute to the most cancer-related deaths each year, according to Dr. Patrick Grant, a radiologist at St. Vincent’s Chilton hospital.

“Lung cancer is another one of those cancers that is typically a slow-growing cancer,” Grant said. “When you develop a successful screening program the goal is to detect these cancers at their smallest and earliest stages, which improves survivability greatly compared to detecting it at late stages where it has become symptomatic.”

Those who qualify for the screenings can have it filed with their insurance provider, but there will be a self-pay rate of $99, if the patient does not have insurance.

Patients must meet a certain criterion in order to be referred by their physician for a screening on Nov. 12. The patient must be a current smoker, a smoker who has quit within the last 15 years or a prior smoker with a 20 pack per year history. (Take the number of packs one smokes per day, and multiply that number by the number of years one has smoked equals one’s pack per year history.) The patient also needs to be aged 50-to-80 and not currently having any symptoms of lung cancer. The American Cancer Society recently lowered the required age from 55-years-old to 50-years-old due to the successfulness of the screenings and to get more people within the age range.

“Because it is an elevated risk for smokers, this is something that they try to promote to catch that cancer early,” Ingram said. “You have to meet that criteria, and also have a physician’s referral in order to receive the screening.”

Those interested in trying to get a physician’s referral can call 205-258-4500, or patients can call their primary care physician to get a referral, and it can be faxed to St. Vincent’s Chilton.

There is no pain or preparation, such as withholding food, associated with the screening. The screening takes about 10 minutes, and the entire process should take less than 30 minutes to complete, according to Ingram. Patients will lay on a table and go through a cat scan machine, and the amount of radiation is a very low-dose compared to the radiation of a normal cat scan. Patients will receive their results within a couple days of the screening.

Breast cancers and colon cancers have had screenings developed in recent years that have given doctors the ability to catch those cancers in earlier stages. The low-dose lung cancer screening has been in the works and developed for over a decade, according to Grant, and it is beginning to show more favor in detecting the cancer earlier and improving survivability.

The screening program has been available at St. Vincent’s Chilton for a number of years, and Grant has seen the number of patients participating in the screenings increase each year.

“We are seeing really good participation, but we would like everyone who is eligible to participate because it is really effective, and people are having good outcomes,” Grant said.

Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton offers lung cancer screenings Monday-Friday throughout the calendar year for those who cannot make the special hours on Nov. 12.