Temple Health now screening for both lung cancer and COPD with one quick test

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Temple Health can screen for lung cancer, COPD with quick test
Temple Health says adding a simple test could reveal COPD and lung cancer diagnosis.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Long-time smokers and former smokers are eligible to be screened every year for lung cancer.

But Temple Health says adding a simple test could tell doctors so much more.

Low-dose CT scans are quick, easy test that could save so many lives from lung cancer.

Yet only about 6% of the eligible smokers and former smokers get it.

And few do it regularly.

"A patient may get it once. And then sometimes they kind of trickle off and then get there, following up in 4 years, 5 years," says Melissa Liverpool, RN, a nurse navigator with the Temple Healthy Chest Initiative.

Liverpool says adults over age 50 who've smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 20 years are eligible, along with heavy smokers who quit within the past 15 years,

And the CT scan is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies.

"We can compare it to what it said the year before," she says.

She says the scans take a snapshot of internal organs that can pick up problems ranging from thyroid nodules to osteoporosis.

"We see the stomach, we see the kidneys, because back there we see the spine, we also see gallbladder. We also see the liver," she says. "We can see the coronary artery so we can see if there's any plaque buildup. It can be mild, moderate, or severe."

Temple also adds a lung function test to screen for COPD by measuring how well the lungs are working.

"It's a way that we can get quantitative numbers of your lung capacity, so we can see if there's an obstruction or restriction there," says Liverpool.

"There's no other way to find out what's going on in your lungs," she notes.

To encourage yearly testing, Temple educates patients, using reminder calls and letters, advance orders and scheduling help for next year's test and soon - reminder texts.

Liverpool says participation is increasing.

"Maybe years from now, we'll be at the point where, where we're at with, like breast screening and cervical cancer screening," she says hopefully.

Liverpool says the CT scans are catching problems early so patients can be referred to specialists for earlier treatment.