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$12,000 received to continue free lung cancer screening

February 06, 2004
Saturday - 1:00 am

A gift of $12,000 allows the Ketchikan General Hospital (KGH) Cancer Committee to resume a free Lung Cancer Screening Program first launched in 2002. The program is aimed at detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages while it is most likely curable. The screening exam uses low-dose CT Scanning.

A locally raised donation of $2000 from the Ketchikan Fraternal Order of Eagles 162 (Eagles) enhanced a $10,000 gift from the Eagles national organization. Local chair Bill Kurtz presented the check to the hospital's CEO Patrick Branco and Phil and Phoebe Newman of First City Council on Cancer.

L to R: Phil Newman, MD; Phoebe Newman; Bill Kurtz; Patrick Branco
Photograph courtesy Ketchikan General Hospital

The Lung Cancer Screening Program offers the very real possibility that people with early stage Lung Cancer will be identified and cured. The arguments for Lung Cancer screening are strong:

  • Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in North America.
  • High-risk patients are easily identified because of tobacco addiction.
  • Once lung cancer presents itself through symptoms it is generally incurable.
  • Finding lung cancer while it is confined to an early, symptom-free stage means cure rates of greater than 70% can be obtained.
  • Most lung cancers previously discovered at KGH have been at an advanced stage and are generally incurable.
  • With proper selection, early cancers can be detected in 2-3% of screened patients. In comparison; mammography in high- risk women yields cancers in 0.5% of patients screened.

Eligible individuals will not incur any out of pocket expenses for the screening exam. If an individual is still smoking, they will be required to participate in a smoking cessation interview. The cost of this interview is $20. As part of this interview, the individual will be offered the opportunity to enroll in a full smoking cessation program. This will be provided free of cost (normally a $100 fee is assessed).

The exam is available to all residents of the community who are 50 years of age or older and have a significant history of smoking. If you have a 20 pack-year history of smoking, you are eligible to be considered for the procedure. To determine your pack-year history, multiply the number of packs you consume(d) per day times the number of years you smoked. For example: 2 packs per day for 10 years equals a 20-pack year history.

Quoting the news release, screening CT exams for lung cancer are not at this time an established standard of care nationally or locally. There is no evidence that this screening improves survival despite evidence that it improves detection.

Because the CT scan is very sensitive, "incidental findings" or abnormalities are not uncommon. Many of these abnormalities are insignificant. Some, however, are significant and require further investigation.

When further investigation is necessary, the individual's personal physician will direct it. These diagnostic tests or procedures will not be covered by the Lung Cancer Screening funds, and therefore, will need to be covered by insurance or the patient. These expenses could be considerable.

If no abnormalities are found, the exam should be repeated in a year.

People interested in taking advantage of this screening opportunity should contact the Ketchikan Public Health Center for further information, at 225-4350.



Source of News Release & photograph:

Ketchikan General Hospital
Web Site


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