Affordable, Effective Lung Cancer Screening at Lexington Diagnostic Center

Affordable, Effective Lung Cancer Screening at Lexington Diagnostic CenterIt should come as no surprise that Kentucky leads the nation in lung cancer deaths, especially when you consider another dubious distinction the Commonwealth holds: the highest smoking rates in the nation.

Because smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer, the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer is to stop smoking. The minute you stop smoking, your body begins to heal and your risk starts to fall. Within two months of stopping, your lung function begins to improve; after 10 years, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent of that of a smoker.

Regardless of whether you’ve recently quit smoking, you quit five years ago, or you continue to smoke, as they age, most people begin to think about their lungs and the damage they’ve inflicted by smoking. Unfortunately, there hasn’t always been a good way to detect lung cancer early, when the chances for a cure are greatest.

A few years ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) came out in support of a screening exam that a large-scale study demonstrated was effective at finding lung cancer early. The test is called low-dose computed tomography, or LDCT. At Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, we’ve been offering this testing for over a decade, even before the USPSTF published its findings.

Along with the USPSTF support came a recommendation that people at high risk for developing lung cancer receive the screening every year. As a result, private insurers (such as Anthem, Cigna and United Healthcare) now cover the cost of the exam for eligible patients, as do Medicare and Medicaid.

Who’s eligible for the screening
The criteria for the screening are strict, but are based in medical research. To be eligible for the screening:

  • The individual must be between the ages of 55 and 80 (Medicare coverage to age 77 only) and in good enough health to withstand potential treatment for cancer, should something be found.
  • The person must have a 30-year pack history of smoking. A 30-year pack history means the patient smoked about a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years, and so on.
  • The individual may currently smoke, or may have quit smoking less than 15 years ago. Congrats – after 15 years as a non-smoker, former smokers are no longer considered to be high risk!
  • Annual screening is to be discontinued when the patient has been smoke-free for 15 years or if their health declines to a level at which they would no longer be able (or interested) in curative treatment for lung cancer.

 

It may seem odd that people who have symptoms of lung cancer are not eligible for the screening. But remember, the screening is designed to detect cancer early. If you have symptoms, by definition, early detection is off the table and a different set of protocols applies.

What does the screening involve?
The screening is quick, simple and painless. Patients are taken to a private room, where they may be asked to change into an exam gown. They are then positioned on a table and the technologist leaves the room. The technologist will be in constant contact with the patient throughout the exam. The table will move into the CT tube and a series of X-rays will be taken. Patients may be asked to hold their breath for short periods of time. When the exam is finished, the table will move out of the tube and the technologist will assist the patient from the table. The actual exam takes no more than 10 minutes.

The images will be read by LDC’s radiologist and the findings sent to the referring physician within two business days.

The Lexington Diagnostic Center advantage
Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI has been performing low-dose CT screenings for lung cancer longer than any facility in the area. Our technologists and physicians are very experienced in LDCT and very sensitive to the concerns of our patients.

Just as importantly, low-dose CT screening at Lexington Diagnostic Center is affordable. Because imaging is the focus of our business, we keep our costs low and pass the savings on to our patients. LDCT screening at Lexington Diagnostic Center is hundreds of dollars less expensive than a screening performed at a local hospital. We accept all major insurance plans and will work closely with you, your physician and your insurance company to ensure coverage for the test. You will know up front what your cost is … no surprise bills 30, 60 or 90 days later!

Want to know more?
Talk with your primary care provider about low-dose CT screening for lung cancer and let them know you want to go to Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI for testing. Or, give us a call at 859-278-7226, or contact us via our website at LexingtonDiagnostic.com.

The FYI On Your MRI

Open MRI SystemChances are, you or someone you know has needed an MRI scan at some point. We’ve at least all heard of an MRI and might imagine ourselves getting in to that big white tube! But what exactly are we getting ourselves in to? With the help of Paula Bracken, chief radiologic technologist at Lexington Diagnostic Center & Open MRI, let’s explore what you should know, consider, and expect when you need an MRI.

What is an MRI?
As Paula explains, “MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a non-invasive scan that uses a large magnet, pulses of radiofrequency waves, and a computer to create detailed, 2D and 3-D images of organs and structures within your body”. Physicians often use MRI imaging to diagnose conditions that may not be adequately assessed using other imaging methods such as X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.

An MRI is often used to:
• Examine the joints, brain, spine, nerves, abdominal organs, breasts, reproductive organs and other soft tissues
• Assess blood vessels for clots and areas of narrowing
• Detect tumors and diagnose many forms of cancer
• Evaluate infections
• Assess injuries to bones, joints and muscles
• Achieve more detailed images than other imaging modalities

MRIs are often preferred over X-rays and CT scans because they don’t emit potentially harmful radiation. Here’s how it works:
1. The MRI scanner is a very strong magnet that is always turned on.
2. Since the body is made up of mostly water, hydrogen protons in the water are utilized to create an image.
3. An antenna is placed around the area of your body to be scanned.
4. You are moved into the magnetic field of the machine and the hydrogen protons go from spinning randomly to aligning with the magnetic field.
5. Radiofrequency pulses are introduced to move the protons into different positions and the antenna “listens” to the echoes from the protons as they relax.
6. The information is sent to a computer that creates the image.

Where to have your MRI
Many patients “go with the flow” and have their scan performed at the hospital, not realizing they have options for comfort, convenience, and cost-savings. Paula says she’s proud to provide superior care and quality at LDC. “We offer an MRI for every need, and we take care of our patients at a fair price that they’ll find is much less expensive than at other facilities,” says Paula.

An MRI for every need
If even just the thought of that big white tube makes you cringe with claustrophobia, rest assured there’s an option for you. You can even have a loved one stay close by for support. That option is also great for little patients who want a parent close by. Lexington Diagnostic Center utilizes modern equipment and procedures to produce the best images possible while ensuring the patient’s comfort. There are three different MRI machine options to accommodate various patient needs and preferences.

In some cases, sedation may be required or requested for the patient. There is no charge for sedation at LDC. You will need to arrange for a driver to take you home.

What to expect and how to prepare:
Talk to your doctor’s referring coordinator or scheduler when your scan is ordered and they can set up your appointment with Lexington Diagnostic Center. LDC will receive your doctor’s orders and will call you to confirm your appointment. Be sure to let LDC know ahead of time if you’ve had a scan of the same area previously at another location so that images can be compared. Paula shares that LDC takes pride in making sure the entire process is easy and convenient for the patient. She says, “We make sure patients have their appointment in a timely manner, without hassle, and are made as comfortable as possible while receiving superior image quality.”

MRI procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. Eat, drink and take your medications as usual unless instructed otherwise. If you are scheduled for an abdominal MRI, you might be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for two hours prior to your appointment.

For the scan, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal items including:
• Jewelry
• Hairpins
• Eyeglasses
• Watches
• Wigs
• Dentures
• Hearing aids

The MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped machine that the patient enters while lying comfortably on an exam table. The machine can get loud, so earplugs and headphones are available. The radiology technologist will be close by, keeping you informed and making sure you’re comfortable. You can stop the exam any time to ask questions or express concerns.

Most MRI scans take about 30 minutes to perform for each study. Afterward, the pictures will be reviewed by the radiologist and a report will be sent to your doctor.

Why choose Lexington Diagnostic Center for your MRI?
They are committed to providing the most convenient high-quality MRI imaging services for patients and their physicians. LDC offers:

• Ease of scheduling with typically same-week appointments
• Board Certified Musculoskeletal Fellowship Trained Radiologists to interpret your results
• Highly trained technologists to ensure your comfort and safety
• CD of images for each patient to have and share with their healthcare provider
• An integrated electronic medical records system that provides your referring physician easy access to your images
• Evening and Saturday appointment times
• Front door parking

Lung Cancer Screening

Low Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening
Dr. George W. Privett, Jr.

In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we should be reminded that Kentuckians have the highest rate of death from lung cancer in the United States. Most lung cancers cause no symptoms until they are too large to be successfully treated.

Lung Cancer is a dreaded diagnosis, particularly when it is discovered after it has already spread throughout the body. What can you do to lower your risk of early death from Lung Cancer? There are two things: 1. STOP SMOKING! and 2. Get a screening test for early detection.

Discovering a screening test that would effectively diagnose this disease before it spreads and would make a cure possible has not been easy. Chest X-rays and sputum analysis for malignant cell have been tried in the past without success.

Fortunately, the CT Scan became available. The CT (or Computed Tomography) scanner takes images of the lungs by spinning an X-ray tube around a patient lying on a bed. By using a powerful computer program, detailed images of the lung are obtained that can detect lung tumors as small as 2 mm. No injections or dyes are needed and the test takes less than 10 minutes. In addition and at no extra charge, other structures in the chest such as the aorta, spine, lymph nodes, heart and ribs are imaged.

We have been providing Low Dose Screening Lung CT for 10 years. However, it was only recently that a large study confirmed what we had suspected – a CT Screening is very effective at reducing deaths in high risk patients by detecting lung cancers early when they are still curable. (As an aside, Screening Lung CT is much more effective than Screening Mammograms and Screening PSA for prostate cancer.)

What is High Risk? High Risk is defined in patients are those who are 55 to 74 years of age who have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years (or two packs per day for 15 years, etc.). If a tumor is found, then the patient will need additional tests and possibly a biopsy to determine if it is a cancer or something benign.

Because a spiral CT scan is so detailed, it is possible that something will show up on the exam that is not cancer (false positive) and additional necessary testing may be costly and lead to side-effects. There is also slight risk due to radiation exposure; however, modern screening is performed with low dose techniques to minimize the exposure.

Currently Anthem covers this Screening Lung CT, and because of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) all other commercial carriers must cover it by January 1, 2015. Medicare will decide if it is going to cover the Screening in November 2014. Low Dose CT may cost as much as $500 in some hospital based centers. For patients without insurance, the current cash price at Lexington Diagnostic Center is $169, and this includes the radiologist charge.

Remember, most lung cancer can be successfully treated if it is found early. If you are at high risk for lung cancer you should consider Low Dose CT Lung Screening, especially if you meet the following criteria:
• Age 55 to 74
• Current or past smoker
• 30 pack-year history of smoking
And no matter what your risk is…..If you are a smoker, stop!