When Barry Gilmore’s wife first told him about Mather Hospital’s Lung Cancer Screening Program, he didn’t want to go. Barry, 71, is a smoker whose father died of lung cancer at 62. His mother passed away from COPD. And although he had quit smoking for 12 years, he slipped back into it after his mother died. He says he doesn’t enjoy smoking, but he’s addicted to it.
Eventually, Barry decided to get a lung cancer screening at Mather. That was four years ago, and now he gets screened every year. He says he does in the event that if something develops, he can jump on it right away. He says he doesn’t want to end up like his mother and father.
National studies have shown that low dose CT screening can detect lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. Mather uses an advanced 320-slice CT scanner to perform the test at the lowest possible radiation dose.
At his first screening, Barry met with Eileen Zaoutis – RN, nurse navigator for the Lung Cancer Screening Program. She recommended smoking cessation classes and explained the screening process. Gilmore said Zaoutis made him feel very comfortable. “Everyone is very nice, and there isn’t a long wait to get the screening,” he said. The actual screening took about two minutes, according to Barry. “It’s just like any other test. You go in, the radiologist reads it and tells your doctor, and your doctor calls you with your results.”
He felt relieved after his first screening showed no problems with his lungs, and that helped him make the decision to get screened every year. Zaoutis contacts Barry each year when it’s time to make his appointment. She makes the whole process rather enjoyable and relaxing, said Barry. “If I can encourage one person who either smokes or used to smoke to get a screening, it could save their life – it’s worth it.”
You should consider having a screening if you are 55 to 77 years old, have at least a 30 “pack year” smoking history (average of one pack a day for 30 years), and currently smoke or quit in the last 15 years. This annual screening is covered by most insurances.