A new, potentially life-saving program at Pekin Hospital uses low-dose radiation CT scanning to identify early-stage lung cancer in high-risk groups. The protocol, endorsed by prominent medical organizations like the American Lung Association, marks the first time people at high risk for developing lung cancer have the opportunity to undergo routine screenings.
The painless scan, which takes about 10 minutes and is performed in a traditional CT scanner, is only recommended for a specific group of people. Candidates must be between 55 to 74 years old, have smoked at least two packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years or more, or have been exposed to certain work environments.
The new program employs a low dose of radiation—much lower than traditional x-rays—while still providing excellent diagnostic images. This lower dosage reduces the risks associated with frequent radiation exposure, making it safer for high-risk candidates advised to have an annual scan.
Lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers, killing more Americans each year than any other type of the disease. The low-dose CT scan screening is the first program designed to identify lung cancer at an early stage, specifically before symptoms are present. “It’s very similar to mammography in that we’re primarily screening an asymptomatic population with the goal of finding early-stage, more treatable cancer,” according to Mike Johnson, Administrative Director of Ancillary Services at Pekin Hospital.
Because it’s a screening tool, most insurance plans don’t cover the scan. Pekin Hospital offers the service, including the radiology interpretation, for $175.
A referral from a physician is required. Candidates who fit the required criteria but do not have a physician are encouraged to contact Pekin Hospital at (309) 353-0886 for a physician referral.