Published on November 27, 2018

Low Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening Finding Early Stage Cancers in Crow Wing County

Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the United States, with 90% of all lung cancers linked to cigarette smoking. Our community ranks higher than the national benchmark for the % of adults who currently smoke and reported smoking > 100 cigarettes.

In 2013, 2014, and 2015 lung cancer was the second leading cancer diagnosed at St. Joseph’s Medical Center with more than 50% of these cases diagnosed at a late stage. (Stage IV).

Until recently, there was no screening test for lung cancer. Low-dose CT scans are now being offered for people ages 55-77 who are long-time smokers, and therefore at high risk for developing lung cancer.

In the summer of 2015, based on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation, Essentia Health began screening patients between the ages of 55-77 who are current smokers with a 30 pack per year history, or those with a similar pack history who have quit smoking within the last 15 years. The screening was performed using low dose CT. Screening patients with low dose CT allows providers to catch cancers at a much earlier stage when cancer is most treatable.

Lung cancer screening is one of the easiest exams available, taking less than 10 seconds. Patients do not need any medication and no use of needles is required.

In the past year, Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center has screened over 750 community members. We have seen a dramatic shift in the stage at which cancers are detected; we are catching cancers at an earlier stage. Since the onset of our program we have detected 27 cancers through screening, with 63% of all lung cancers diagnosed at Stage 1, as opposed to 2015 where only 16% of all lung cancers were caught at stage 1.

Most private insurance companies cover annual screenings and Medicare pays for the test for people ages 55-77. To schedule a screening, first meet with your primary care physician. Make an appointment through MyHealth or call 218-828-7100.