New Lung Cancer Screening Program Already Making a Positive Difference for Smokers and Ex-Smokers in South Jersey

Burlington County, NJ: March 9, 2015

160 screenings, four positive findings, four lung cancer patients whose prognosis is much better than it would have been had they waited until they experienced symptoms or until later-stage disease was detected. These are the results, so far, of the new low-dose CT lung cancer screening program at Larchmont Medical Imaging.

“The morbidity and mortality rates for lung cancer have historically been very high because the disease is usually not found until it has already reached an advanced stage,” said Michael Brodsky, M.D., a radiologist and fellowship-trained body imaging specialist at Larchmont Medical Imaging.

“But low-dose CT lung cancer screenings have enabled us to find very small lung cancers in asymptomatic patients—when they are much more treatable and even curable,” he said. “Research has demonstrated that screened patients have their risk of dying of lung cancer lowered by at least 20 percent. Our program is new, but it’s already making a positive difference for patients in our area.”

Larchmont Medical Imaging, which is Burlington County’s largest diagnostic imaging provider and serves patients at locations in Mt. Laurel, Medford, Moorestown and Willingboro, also earned recognition last month by the American College of Radiology (ACR) as an ACR Designated Lung Cancer Screening Center. The practice is one of only four ACR Designated Lung Cancer Screening Centers in New Jersey and the only provider in Burlington County to have received this designation.

Patients are candidates for low-dose CT lung cancer screening at Larchmont Medical Imaging if they (1) are healthy enough to undergo treatment if diagnosed with cancer and (2) meet the following criteria endorsed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN):

Newly approved Medicare coverage also allows for screenings of patients up to age 77 if they meet the other criteria above.

When the findings of a low-dose CT lung cancer screening are suspicious, patients are managed with protocols recommended by the NCCN, which vary depending on the size and characteristics of the lesions. For the smallest lesions, the protocols call for follow-up scans from three months to one year later to check for signs of progressing disease. For larger lesions, a biopsy or lung resection may be recommended immediately to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.

“Lung cancer remains a challenging disease, compounded by how difficult it is to break a cigarette habit,” Dr. Brodsky said. “But the research—not to mention the successes we’ve had with some of our earliest screening patients—points to the potential to make a significant difference and save more lives now and in the future.

“Granted, the best way to reduce lung cancer risk is to never start smoking in the first place, or to quit now if you currently smoke. But we urge patients who meet the criteria to talk to their physicians as soon as possible about the benefits of a screening—because the prognosis is so much better with early detection.”