Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the #1 cause of death from cancer in the United States for both men and women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2011, more than 221,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer and approximately 157,000 Americans will die from lung cancer. Yet over 80% of lung cancers have a chance to be cured if detected early. Unfortunately, most cancers aren't discovered until they reach an advanced stage, when they cause symptoms that lead to diagnosis.

The UnityPoint Health - Methodist Lung screening is the tool that helps doctors detect lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. This fast, painless screening uses a low-dose CT to look inside your chest. It is the only test that has been proven to detect early lung cancer and improve survival. If you are a long-term, heavy smoker or former smoker aged 55 or older, the Methodist Lung Cancer screening may be for you. It includes:

 Low-dose CT chest screening exam
Lung Cancer Risk Assessment
Personalized cancer reduction and healthy lifestyle education
Tobacco cessation education

Our UnityPoint Health - Cancer Services is committed to caring for patients with lung cancer and will be here for you and your family every step of the way. We use a multidisciplinary team approach bringing together many different specialties to discuss the best practice for our patients to help ensure the best outcomes. Using our extensive experience dealing with every stage of this disease, our cutting-edge treatments and vast resources, we will do everything we can to help.

How can I reduce my risk for Lung Cancer?


UnityPoint Health offers smoking cessation classes. We have staff trained in the American Lung Association's evidence-based Freedom From Smoking program. Please call us at 309-672-5904 to learn more about these classes or to enroll today. In 2016, UnityPoint Health is scheduled to provide smoking cessation classes to 30 people from around central Illinois. As of October 2016, seven people had completed the entire program. Of the seven people who completed the program, three remained smoke-free. Upon completion of the program participants are all followed up with by the American Lung Association's Lung Helpline within 4-6 months to determine if they remain smoke-free. 

What is a Lung Cancer screening?

The screening detects potential early cancers, similar to a mammogram. It doesn't hurt and takes only about 30 seconds. You just lie on a table and hold your breath while a low-dose screening CT (computerized tomography) scan produces detailed images of your lungs.

How is the exam performed?


LDCT lung screening is one of the easiest exams you can have. The exam takes less than seconds, no medications are given, and no needles are used. You can eat before and after the exam. You do not even need to get changed as long as the clothing on your chest does not contain metal. One must, however, be able to hold their breath for at least 6 seconds while the chest scan is being taken.

Who should get a Lung Cancer screening?


According to the National Cancer Institute, risk factors for lung cancer include tobacco smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke, exposure to radon, asbestos and other substances, air pollution, and a personal or family history of lung cancer. Current and former smokers aged 55 and up are at greatest risk for developing lung cancer. We offer a free Lung Cancer Risk Assessment to help determine your risk and if screening is right for you. Your doctor can also discuss the benefits and risks of screening to help you decide if the Lung Cancer screening is right for you. 

What is the goal of LDCT lung screening?

The goal of LDCT (low dose CT) lung screening is to save lives. Without LDCT lung screening, lung cancer is usually not found until a person develops symptoms. At that time, the cancer is much harder to treat and most are not curable.

What are the risks?

CT scans deliver a very small amount of radiation to your chest. The radiation you receive from this low-dose screening CT is only 1/5 what you would receive from a standard chest CT scan.
About 1 in 4 CT lung cancer screenings finds small spots, called lung nodules. Most of these nodules are not cancer - they are small scars that will never affect your health.

What happens if you find something?

Each abnormal finding is reviewed by a radiologist. Our Nurse Navigator will call you to discuss the results with you and explain next steps. Remember, most small lung nodules found are not cancer. Next steps can include monitoring the nodules over time with CT scans. In some cases a biopsy may also be required. The screening may also find indications of other conditions, such as emphysema or infections. We will notify both you and your doctor of any abnormal findings.

What does it cost?

The Affordable Care Act mandates that private insurances cover all screening exams with a grade B evidence or greater (LDCT lung cancer screening meets this). Medicare will also cover the cost. Additional fees for a radiologist to review the results of the screening could result in an additional charge. Please check with your insurance provider to determine your cost. Insurance usually does cover follow-up evaluation of abnormal findings.

How do I schedule my lung CT screening?

Call your primary care physician to determine if you are a candidate for a lung cancer screening and to get the screening scheduled