Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening Saved A Smoker | Loyola Medicine
Friday, March 17, 2017

How a Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening Saved a Longtime Smoker

Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center

MAYWOOD, IL – Dawn Andersen lost her husband to lung cancer, and as a longtime smoker herself, she also was at high risk for the disease.

So Loyola Medicine pulmonologist Sean Forsythe, MD, recommended Mrs. Andersen undergo a CT lung cancer screening test, which has been shown to save lives among longtime smokers by detecting lung cancer in early stages when it’s most treatable.

The CT scan detected a growth in her lung that a later biopsy confirmed was a tumor. Fortunately, it was a slow-growing type of cancer (called a typical carcinoid) and it had not spread to her lymph nodes.

Loyola thoracic surgeon James Lubawski, MD, removed the tumor in a minimally invasive procedure called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. The incisions were less than an inch-long and Mrs. Andersen spent just two days in the hospital.

Mrs. Andersen did not require chemotherapy or radiation.

“Her outlook is great,” Dr. Lubawski said.

Since Loyola began offering low-dose CT lung cancer screenings to people at high risk of lung cancer, more than 1,000 smokers and ex-smokers have been screened. Early-stage cancer has been detected in 20 smokers before they experienced symptoms.

Any patient who undergoes CT lung cancer screening at Loyola and who still smokes is counseled on where they can get help to quit. Mrs. Andersen, 73, who smoked for 50 years, successfully quit after her diagnosis.

“It’s never too late to quit,” Dr. Forsythe said. “For example, quitting between age 55 and 64 can add three years on average to a smoker’s life. And the cardiac benefits of quitting begin within three weeks.”

Following American Cancer Society guidelines, Loyola offers lung cancer screening for people aged 55 to 77 who are in fairly good health, have smoked the equivalent of at least a pack a day for 30 years and are currently smoking or have quit within the past 15 years.

Loyola performs the gold standard test of lung cancer screening: low-dose spiral CT scan (LDCT scan). An X-ray machine scans the body in a spiral path, and a computer produces highly detailed pictures of the lungs. The procedure uses low-dose radiation and is not recommended for people who are at average risk for lung cancer.

Lung cancer screenings are available at the Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge, Loyola Center for Health at Oakbrook Terrace and the Loyola Outpatient Center on Loyola’s main campus in Maywood.

Watch the video about Loyola’s lung cancer screening program.

For more information about Loyola’s lung cancer screening program, call 708-CAN-HELP. For free help in quitting smoking, call the Illinois Tobacco Quit Line, 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937)

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.