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Friday, November 8, 2013

Reducing Lung Cancer Risk Through Screening

Jennifer Laudenslager, RN-CCRN
PinnacleHealth Pulmonary Nodule Clinic

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. More than 150,000 Americans die from this disease each year – that is more than colon/rectum cancer (50,830) breast cancer (39,620) and prostate cancer (29,720) combined.*

Because lung cancer often causes no symptoms in the early stages, having a screening study is the best way to ensure early diagnosis and treatment and the best possible chance for a cure. In addition, there is now clear evidence that screening people at high risk for lung cancer with a low-dose CT scan leads to 20% fewer deaths from this disease. The benefits of screening include:
  • Better chance for a cure
  • Early diagnosis and treatment
  • Reduction in mortality
Who is considered high risk and should be screened?
The PinnacleHealth Lung Cancer Screening Program recommends screening the following individuals:
  • Ages 55-79 who have smoked the equivalent of one pack daily for 30 years
  • Ages 50-79 who have smoked the equivalent of one pack daily for 20 years and have one additional risk factor
    • Additional risk factors are:  radon exposure, asbestos exposure, cancer history, strong family history of lung cancer, significant second hand smoke exposure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or pulmonary fibrosis.
What is involved with screening?
At PinnacleHealth, we offer a low-dose screening CT scan to identify nodules or other findings suggestive of lung cancer. Currently, this screening is not covered by insurance. The screening costs $99.

Individuals who meet the screening criteria can simply call (717) 230-3700 to schedule their screening at one of PinnacleHealth’s imaging locations. Payment is made at the testing site. We accept exact cash, check, or most major credit cards.

Individuals who do not meet screening criteria should ask their family doctor if the screening is right for them. A prescription from the family doctor is necessary to schedule the screening. There are other risk factors that may increase an individual’s risk of lung cancer, including: radon exposure, family history of lung cancer, exposure to diesel fumes or working as a firefighter.

The actual screening process is simple. There is no contrast dye involved, so there are no injections or preparations. Individuals opting for the screening first change into a gown and then they are guided to the CT scanner. The next step is to lie on the table, allow the CT scanner to make a few rotations around the chest and the test is complete. Results are mailed to the patient and the referring physician.

PinnacleHealth has partnered with the Department of Environmental Protection’s Radon Division to offer all lung cancer screening patients radon kits for radon testing of the patient’s home, which is included in the $99 screening fee. A certificate will be mailed to the patient attached to the test results with further instructions.

What happens if there is a positive finding with the screening?Should the CT scan identify concerning findings, PinnacleHealth offers a multidisciplinary Pulmonary Nodule Clinic. The clinic provides rapid evaluation and treatment of pulmonary nodules by a team of skilled specialists including thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists and interventional radiologists. This team works together to thoroughly evaluate each nodule, develop a comprehensive individualized plan of care utilizing the most advanced technologies, and significantly reduce the time from detection to treatment.

The PinnacleHealth Pulmonary Nodule Clinic offers access to the latest advances in lung cancer care, including:
  • Low dose and volume CT scanning
  • PET/CT
  • SuperDimension Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy
  • Endobronchial ultrasound
  • Transthoracic needle biopsy
  • Video-assisted thoracic surgery
  • da vinci® Robotic-assisted thoracic surgery
  • CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system
  • Personalized approach to tissue analysis
For more information on the lung cancer screening program or the pulmonary nodule clinic, please call (717) 231-8339 or visit

For more information about how to quit smoking, plan to join us on November 21 at the Camp Hill Giant for a presentation by Troy Moritz, DO, FACOS, as part of the Great American Smokeout.

*American Cancer Society, estimated cancer deaths, 2013

Diabetes and Family

Renu Joshi, MD
Chief of Endocrinology at PinnacleHealth System

Renu Joshi, MD
I have seen it all. Over twenty years of caring for patients with diabetes, I have seen its innumerable consequences. Among them all, I have been struck the most by the devastating effects it has on families and how hard it is for families to cope with this terrible disease. Its effects run far beyond the many organs that it damages: the eyes, heart, kidneys, skin, brain, feet and the list goes on.

While I feel for the ways in which families are negatively impacted by the disease-in other words what the disease does to families, I am equally struck by how much families can impact the disease positively—in other words what families can do to help the disease process.  Food habits are a major example. If the entire family is eating whole grain pasta, it makes it so much easier for the diabetic patient himself to follow healthy diet habits.

What many diabetic patients do not realize is how much it actually affects their spouse. As an example, many of my Type 1 Diabetic patients’ wives cannot get adequate sleep because of a constant concern that their husband may not develop low blood sugars at night.

So my humble request is for families to take an active part in controlling this chronic disease in their loved ones. Such care pays rich dividends in that complication rates are so much lower when the disease is well controlled. Get involved in the life of your diabetic counterpart by cooking the right food, eating out sparingly and exercise together. Listen to what they are experiencing and visit the doctor with them so you can learn how to take better care of them.  Such care will positively transform the life of your loved one.