Free lung cancer screening for high risk patients

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - A lung cancer screening CAT scan changed Darlene Livingston’s life.  “I had a mass on my lung,” Livingston said.

The former nurse at Swedish Medical Center had smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for most of her life when her doctor suggested she get the lung cancer screening CAT scan that is now free to high risk patients who qualify.

The scan found a mass on her lung that was cancerous, but it was found early enough that it had not spread.

“The fact that she had a lung cancer screening CAT scan picked up on that lung nodule early enough, so that it could be removed and she could be cured,” said Dr. Jim Fenton, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health at Swedish Medical Center.

He says all high risk patients should get this screening now that it is covered by insurance.

“It is a huge change and unfortunately many of the patients that are eligible for this free lung cancer screening CAT scan are not receiving that,” Dr. Fenton said.

The screening only takes a few minutes, and requires no medications or an IV.  Without it, lung cancer is usually not found until a person develops symptoms, and at that point it is much harder to treat.

Darlene is glad she had the screen.  She had surgery to remove the cancer, then went through several months of chemo.  She is now cancer free!

“I would encourage everybody who is smoker to have the scan done. It was a life saver for me,” Livingston said with a smile.

Lung screening is recommended for people age 55 to 77 who have smoked an average of 1 pack per day for 30 years.  This includes people who still smoke, and even those who quite within the past 15 years.

An annual scan is recommended for people who meet the screening criteria.

Ask your doctor to see if you are eligible for a free scan.

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