EDGEWOOD, Ky. — St. Elizabeth Healthcare has reached an impressive milestone in its fight against lung cancer: the 20,000th lung cancer screening.
Since the low-dose CT lung cancer screening program began in 2013, the program has grown exponentially.
“We screened seven patients in 2013 and more than 6,000 patients in 2021,” said Michael Gieske, MD, director of the St. Elizabeth Lung Cancer Screening Program. “Lung cancer screenings are making a significant impact on our community and throughout the state of Kentucky.”
According to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) Annual State of Lung Cancer report, Kentucky has moved up to the No. 2 spot in the nation for lung cancer screening efforts. The ALA report also highlights that the rate of new lung cancer cases in Kentucky has improved by 11% over the last five years.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer—and the leading cause of cancer deaths, killing more than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. The statistics are alarming: one in every five deaths is lung cancer-related, and one in every 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime. Lung cancer symptoms typically don’t present in patients until they have progressed—usually in stage III or later—making it more challenging to treat or cure and far more costly to manage.
“Lung cancer has a poor five-year survival rate, but the St. Elizabeth lung cancer screening program is determined to change those statistics,” Gieske said. “The problem with lung cancer is twofold; it is an extremely aggressive, fast-moving cancer and we historically find it too late when it has become symptomatic and spread. When we catch lung cancer in its early stages on a CT scan, we can offer patients a much better prognosis.”
St. Elizabeth recently partnered with EON Health to help identify and track lung abnormalities for earlier lung cancer detection and management. The Denver-based health tech company utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to review completed CT scans, X-rays and MRs within St. Elizabeth and flag potential cancerous pulmonary nodules. EON’s technology now enables St. Elizabeth to capture lung nodules with 98% accuracy and discover more patients at risk for potentially life-threatening diseases.
“Annual lung screenings are the most effective way to identify lung cancer early when it’s most treatable,” said Douglas Flora, MD, executive medical director of the St. Elizabeth Cancer Center. “Combining screenings with EON software allows us to analyze internal data and improve lung cancer patient outcomes in our community.”
The St. Elizabeth lung cancer screening program is led by a team of multidisciplinary specialists, including lung cancer surgeons, radiologists, pulmonologists, primary care physicians, nurse navigators and medical and radiation oncologists. The screening is available at one of eight ACR-accredited St. Elizabeth locations and takes less than 20 minutes.
Most insurances cover the cost for patients who currently or formerly smoked—like Mary Leonard, who received the 20,000th lung cancer screen at St. Elizabeth.
“It’s so easy to get the screening,” Leonard said. “It’s harder to go to the dentist! I think everyone should get screened. The peace of mind when you get those all-clear results is fantastic. But if by chance I would get lung cancer, at least we would catch it early when it’s easiest to treat.”
St. Elizabeth is committed to building one of the healthiest communities in America by promoting annual lung cancer screenings. Its goal is to build community awareness that early detection saves lives.
To learn more about the lung cancer screening program, visit stelizabeth.com/lung.
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