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updated: 11/15/2013 10:17 PM

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital launches Lung Cancer Screening Program

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Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital has launched a new lung cancer screening program to promote the early detection of lung cancer. The program is guided by criteria from the National Lung Screening Trial and recommendations by the American Lung Association. Through the screening program, low-dose CT scans will be recommended for people who meet a series of criteria, based largely on age and smoking history.

"Creating the Lung Cancer Screening Program and implementing the protocol defined by the National Lung Screening Trial will help longtime smokers better understand their overall pulmonary health, as well as their risk for developing lung cancer," said Michael G. Ankin, MD, FACP, FCCP, a pulmonologist at Northwestern Lake Forest and the hospital's vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer. "This type of program has the power to transform the assessment process for lung cancer in much the same way that mammography changed and improved screening for breast cancer."

People who match the eligibility criteria will be given personalized evaluation of risks for developing lung cancer, a clinical assessment of overall health status, along with support delivered individually to each patient with the goal of achieving the best possible health outcome in the near and long term.

The new screening program is made possible by generous philanthropic support from Larry and Pam Zall. Through this funding, Northwestern Lake Forest will be able to provide low-dose CT lung screenings, at no cost to the patient, for approximately 100 qualified program participants each year.

The launch of the screening program coincides with Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November. Lung cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer among both men and women and is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, accounting for the loss of approximately 1.4 million lives each year. The illness is difficult to detect in its early stages, and typically before the person experiences symptoms the cancer has already spread beyond the lungs to other part of the body. Yet, when detected in its beginning stage it is very treatable.

To facilitate this crucial early detection and to improve and ideally save lives, experts developed a recommended screening protocol based on the results of an eight-year National Lung Screening Trial which concluded in late 2010 and was administered jointly by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network and the National Cancer Institute. This landmark study enrolled 53,000 individuals between ages 55 and 74, all of whom had a significant smoking history.

On an annual basis the participants underwent low-dose CT scans of their lungs in an effort to identify potential early-stage malignant tumors. Results of the study demonstrated that annual, low-dose CT scans resulted in a 20 percent decrease in deaths related to lung cancer, because the scans promoted detection of less advanced and more treatable tumors.

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital is an Accredited Comprehensive Cancer Program through the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. This accreditation ensures that key elements of quality care, such as state-of-the-art clinical, rehabilitation and support services, are provided to every person with cancer who is treated at the hospital.

For more information about Northwestern Lake Forest's Lung Cancer Screening program call 847-535-7441.

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