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Published on September 23, 2014

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Offers Free Lung Cancer Screenings

Early identification of lung cancer critical for long-term smokers

COLUMBIA, Mo. — According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate of a lung cancer patient increases by 44 percent when the cancer is identified in stage 1. To catch the cancer early, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is offering free lung cancer screenings to individuals who are at-risk for developing the disease.

“More people die from lung cancer each year than from any other type of cancer,” said Marcus Wade, M.D., a chest fellowship-trained radiologist at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. “It’s estimated that more than 159,000 people die from lung cancer each year. If we can catch the disease early, patients are much more likely to live a longer, healthier life.”

To qualify for a free lung cancer screening, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be between ages 55 and 74
  • Have a minimum 30-pack year smoking history; for example, have smoked one pack of cigarettes each day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years or three packs a day for 10 years
  • Be willing to participate in a screening program and discuss smoking cessation
  • Using low-dose CT scans, experts at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center look for abnormal nodules, or masses, in the chest. If an abnormal nodule is discovered that requires further evaluation, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center’s team of radiologists and multidisciplinary thoracic oncologists are on hand to treat patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and at least 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking. Lung cancer mainly occurs in older individuals — two-thirds of lung cancer patients are 65 or older. Additionally, those who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.

“For these screenings, we are looking for individuals who are current smokers or who have stopped smoking within the last 15 years,” Wade said. “Once you have stopped smoking for 15 years, the odds of you getting lung cancer decrease, but it is still important to be aware of the symptoms of the disease.”

Most individuals with lung cancer do not show symptoms until the disease has developed into later stages, though symptoms can occur in people with early stages of lung cancer. Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A persistent cough that worsens with time
  • Chest pain that often is worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • A hoarse voice
  • Coughing up blood or a change in color of spit
  • Shortness of breath or a new onset of wheezing
  • Reoccurring infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia

For more information about scheduling a free lung cancer screening at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, call (573) 884-1140.

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, a part of University of Missouri Health Care, is a certified member of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Network®. Ellis Fischel Cancer Center offers patients with all types of cancers a comprehensive health team and innovative diagnostic and treatment options.