Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Central New York’s first lung cancer screening program is now available at Upstate Cancer Center. For the first time ever, you'll be able to sign up for a CT scan to check for lung cancer, while it's still small and curable.
Donald Cibula smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. He was the first patient to try out the new lung cancer screening program because he's worried about his health and is considering quitting.
“I'm in the contemplative stages because my wife, who was a long time smoker too, recently quit,” Cibula said.
Inside the CT machine, patients get a relatively low dose of radiation as it scans to create pictures of their lungs.
Upstate Cancer Center Medical Director Doctor Leslie Kohman said, “Although it’s certainly more than an X-ray, the amount of radiation a person gets in a scan like this is equivalent to normal background radiation that we all get in four months.”
Radiologists study the pictures to differentiate blood vessels from what could be small cancers. If stage one lung cancer is found, doctors say there's an 80 percent chance of a cure. But now, most people don't find out they have it until it's spread to the point that they feel the symptoms, and it's too late.
“If we could find most lung cancers in stage one, we would be able to cure most lung cancer. And this would be a dramatic change in the death rate of a major cancer killer in our country and in the world,” Dr. Kohman continued.
The scanning is available for smokers, as well as former smokers, like David Cramer.
“I’d like to know what's going on. I quit smoking a few years ago, but I've smoked for quite a few years and it'd be really nice to know,” Cramer said.
And, it would be nice to know sooner, rather than later. Cramer’s results will be ready in just a few days, so he can stay focused on a healthy future.
The screening is not yet covered by insurance. Right now, it costs $235. If you’re interested in getting screened, you must be between the ages of 55 and 74 and meet certain smoking habit criteria.
To find out more and to sign up, call the Upstate Health Connections line at 464-8668.