Clinton, MD (February 25, 2021) – MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has recently launched a new lung cancer screening program. The program aims to reduce lung cancer deaths by screening high-risk patients before they exhibit any symptoms. The 2011 National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) concluded that early detection of lung cancer by low-dose CT scans can cut the lung cancer death rate by 20 percent. The hope is that people with lung cancer can have their disease caught while it’s still at an early stage when there are more treatment options available and cure rates are better.

“Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer mortality in both men and women, and most long-term lung cancer survivors are individuals who were diagnosed when the cancer was at an early stage,” said Stephen “Eric” Rubenstein, MD, medical director of MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. “Our new lung cancer screening program will help identify people while their cancer is at an earlier stage, increasing the possibility that their cancer will be treatable.”

Physicians will refer patients to the program who fit the high-risk profile for lung cancer: people between the ages of 55 and 80 who are current smokers or have quit within the last 15 years. In addition to fulfilling those criteria, patients must have had a 30 pack-year smoking history – equivalent to a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years.

“One out of 100 people who fit these criteria and get screened will have lung cancer, and one in 300 will avoid dying from lung cancer,” said Sheil Shah, DO, the diagnostic radiologist who will be leading the screening program at MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. “Identifying it in the early stages, where it could potentially have a cure, is the program’s goal.”

Screenings will take place at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center using sophisticated low-dose CT technology that uses much less radiation than a traditional CT scan does. A diagnostic radiologist will review the scan and provide a report of findings, along with recommendations for follow-up care or future screening. If the radiologist identifies a suspicious area on the scan, the patient may be referred to MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for additional scans or biopsies. The cancer center, opened in late 2019, combines unmatched medical expertise, leading-edge therapies, and robust clinical research, all under one roof.

“The test was easy. I had no discomfort,” said Temple Hills resident Orville Fogle, 65, who was the lung cancer screening program’s first participant. “I’ve had a couple of scans in the past, but MedStar Southern Maryland was the first hospital that actually gave me a clear diagnosis about what was going on with my lung, which was scar tissue.” Mr. Fogle is now in the process of quitting smoking and is pursuing follow-up care for the scar tissue in his lung.

Nationally, approximately 60 percent of low-dose CT scans uncover lung nodules and incidental findings that require additional care. Patients who are found to have other, noncancerous diseases in their lungs or nearby organs will benefit from the coordinated, multidisciplinary expertise – from pulmonology to cardiothoracic surgery – available throughout MedStar Health. The program will also incorporate smoking cessation counseling and follow-up communication with the patient’s primary care provider.

MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, which is fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, offers 25,000 square feet of treatment space with a state-of-the-art infusion center, women’s imaging suite, and robust radiation therapy capabilities that include Zap-X®, the first radiosurgery system of its kind on the East Coast, and Halcyon™, a new kind of radiotherapy offering faster, more accurate treatment.

For more information about our program, please call 301-877-5588.

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