Screening gives hope to those at risk for lung cancer

By The Pulse Jul 11, 2013


WATCH: Geoffrey G. Smith, M.D., diagnostic and interventional radiologist with Outpatient Radiology in Casper discusses the Lung Cancer Screening Program.

Until recently, a lung cancer diagnosis was often a death sentence. By the time an X-ray detected a lung nodule, the cancer had already spread to the brain, bones or other organs.

A screening program at Wyoming Medical Center, however, can detect smaller lung nodules than X-rays, giving doctors a chance to diagnose cancer in time to remove the tumor. Wyoming Medical Center and Outpatient Radiology have developed a comprehensive screening program using a low-dose CT scan and a team of local doctors. It is the only program of its kind in Wyoming.

“I think the most important thing about this particular program, is it allows us to potentially cure a disease that is otherwise intractable and almost impossible to cure,” said Dr. Geoffrey G. Smith, diagnostic and interventional radiologist with Outpatient Radiology in Casper.

“Now we have a way to stop this disease before it becomes a problem for a patient.”

Below are the most frequently asked questions about the low-cost, low-dose CT scan for lung cancer. Dr. Smith answers more questions in the posted video.

Q: Do I need a doctor’s referral?

A: No, not if you have a high risk for developing lung cancer. You are considered high risk if:

* You are 55 to 74 with a 30-pack-year smoking history and have smoked within the last 15 years.

* Or, you are 50 or older with a 20-pack-year smoking history and have secondary risk factor – such as such as occupational exposure to radon or asbestos.  (Second-hand smoke exposure is not considered a secondary risk factor. Your doctor can help identify these risk factors.)

A pack-year is figured by multiplying the number of packs you smoke per day by the number of years you have smoked. A person who has smoked a pack a day for 30 years has a 30-pack-year history. A person who has smoked two packs for day for 10 years has a 20-pack-year history.

Q: Should I get the screening if I fall just outside the high-risk group?

A: Though it’s not recommended at this time, talk to your doctor about your concerns. He may provide a screening referral if you have a secondary risk factor.

Q: How long does the low-dose CT lung scan take?

A: The san itself takes just 20 to 30 seconds, said Dr. Smith.

It requires no IVs or needle sticks. You simply lie on the table while the scan takes a series of pictures from the bottom of your diaphragm to the top of your lungs.

The longest part will likely be the interview to make sure you are a good candidate for the screening.

Q: What does it cost, and will my insurance cover it?

A: The scan is $300. Because it is a relatively new scan, some insurance companies may pay while others may not, Smith said.

Q: How do I schedule an appointment?

A: Call Outpatient Radiology at 307-232-5012 or go to www.wyomingmedicalcenter.org for more information.

Geoffrey Smith, M.D.

Geoffrey Smith M.D.

Dr. Smith is board certified in general and interventional radiology. He earned his medical degree and completed his internship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He also completed a residency in diagnostic radiology at Baylor. He joined Casper Medical Imaging and Outpatient Radiology in 1991. 

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