CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - At Saint Francis Healthcare System, there is a growing lung screening program that is helping more patients than ever.
Ginny Ginithan is the Director of Imaging and Woman Care. She said once a patient speaks to their physician and gets the order, the lung screening is completely free if you meet certain guidelines.
“There is a set of guidelines that we go by,” explained Ginithan. “If you are between the ages of 50 and 77, if you are a current smoker or have been a smoker within the last 15 years, that’s the type of criteria we have.”
Oncologist Mark Meadors said you also have to meet the thirty pack year history criteria.
"That 30 pack year history is kind of the sweet spot of where there is some significant harm done, explained Meadors. “And what I mean by pack year history is say you smoke a pack a day for thirty years or you smoke half a pack a day for sixty years. It’s just that concentrated exposure is really the trigger.”
Dr. Meadors said it isn’t just about finding the lung cancer, it is about finding it early and these screenings are helping to do that. This lung screening program started about two years ago, but in the last six months it’s grown from seeing patients just once a week to five days a week.
“Unfortunately, if someone comes in with significant weight loss, or they are coughing up blood, or they have skeletal pain, or shortness of breath that’s secondary to the cancer, that means that it is a late stage and that’s not where I want to see them," said Meadors. "That’s why lung cancer screening is ideal because this is where you can intervene and potentially offer a cure. Now with the low dose CT scan there is some significant reduction in risk to the smoker.”
Saint Francis Healthcare System has done 100 CT lung screenings in the first six months of 2019.
Again, to qualify for these free lung cancer screenings you have to be a high risk patient and your physician has to refer you.
To schedule your screening, call 573-331-5111.