Each year, lung cancer takes the lives of more people than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. In an effort to beat the odds, the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Saddleback Memorial offers a lung cancer screening program designed to diagnose lung cancer earlier.
The cornerstones of this comprehensive program are a multidisciplinary team and the latest tools in imaging technology and treatment. The technology at the center of the program is a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scanner.
Why a Low-Dose CT Scan?
Low-dose CT has the potential to detect 85 percent more cases of lung cancer earlier in the disease process. The goal of screening is to detect disease at a stage when it is not causing symptoms and when treatment is most successful.
“There is an assumption that unless you have a cough or shortness of breath, you have nothing to worry about,” says Richard J. Wasley, M.D., medical director of radiology at Saddleback Memorial. “But many who develop lung cancer don’t have any symptoms at all. If you are at risk for lung cancer, you can improve your odds with a low-dose CT scan.”
Board-certified radiologists, pulmonologists, oncologists and surgeons lead the multidisciplinary lung cancer team at Saddleback Memorial. If a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, the team collaborates closely with primary care physicians and support staff to evaluate each patient’s unique circumstances and determine the best treatment options. Throughout this journey, patients are guided by a nurse navigator who coordinates their care.
“Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to delivering the best care for the patients we serve,” says thoracic surgeon Shigeru Chino, M.D. “Whether patients require radiation, chemotherapy or robot-assisted surgery, our team has the leading-edge tools as well as the experience and sound judgment to provide improved outcomes.”
Know Your Risk
There are many risk factors that contribute to lung cancer. Approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are due to tobacco smoke. Even if you are not a smoker, exposure to secondhand smoke may increase your risk. Other factors include personal or family history, radiation therapy to the chest and exposure to cancer-causing agents.
“The low-dose CT scan is painless and takes 20 seconds to complete,” says Dr. Wasley. “It can make the difference between life and death.”