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updated: 6/27/2013 1:35 PM

NCH offers early lung cancer screening program

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Northwest Community Healthcare

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 27, 2013) -- For smokers and former smokers, the risk of getting lung cancer is much higher than for non-smokers. But high-risk smokers can breathe a sigh of relief with a program at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) that diagnoses lung problems at the earliest possible stage.

NCH's Early Lung Cancer Screening program enables patients to find out if their lungs are cancer-free by taking a quick and painless, low-dose CT scan, which enables doctors to search for signs of cancer at an earlier stage -- when lung cancer is most treatable.

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Traditional X-rays provide a 2-dimensional view of the chest, showing not only the lungs, but the heart, bone and soft tissue -- all of which can mask abnormalities. Low-dose CT lung scans create a detailed, 3-D image, giving doctors a clearer, unobstructed view of the lungs -- and the ability to detect tiny nodules that would often not be visible on a chest X-ray.

An eight-year national benchmark study by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network and the National Cancer Institute showed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality in current or former heavy smokers whose cancer was detected with a low-dose CT scan, compared with those whose cancer was detected with a chest X-ray.

Because radiation is involved in all imaging, patients must meet the following criteria to qualify for NCH's Early Lung Cancer Screening program:

• Age 50 to 74

• Smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or 2 packs a day for 15 years, OR

• Smoked a pack a day for 20 years, or 2 packs a day for 10 years - along with an additional risk factor such as an immediate family member with lung cancer

• Either currently smoking or quit within the past 15 years

• No chest CT scan in the past year

• No history of lung cancer

• No signs or symptoms of lung cancer

Patients who are eligible for the screening will receive quick and painless scanning and a review of the scan by a board-certified radiologist who will look for lung nodules, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and calcified coronary arterial disease. Patients also will receive basic lung function testing by a respiratory therapist with review by a board-certified pulmonologist. For current smokers who are looking to quit, counseling classes and support groups are provided onsite an NCH.

For more information about NCH's Early Lung Cancer Screening, visit nch.org or call 847.618.3700.

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About Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH)

Serving Chicago's northwest suburbs since 1959, NCH is a comprehensive, patient-centered system of care that serves more than 350,000 outpatients each year, as well as nearly 30,000 inpatients treated annually at the 496-bed acute care hospital in Arlington Heights. The award-winning hospital holds the prestigious Magnet designation for nursing excellence, is designated as a Primary Stroke Center, earned the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval in 2011, and was awarded the Leapfrog Group's designation as one of the nation's Top Hospitals based on quality and safety criteria. NCH has four Immediate Care locations in the northwest suburbs and operates a FastCare Clinic in Palatine. NCH has a medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians, which includes the board-certified primary care doctors and specialists of the NCH Medical Group. For more information or to find a doctor on the NCH Medical staff, visit www.nch.org.

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