A Sophisticated Way to Monitor for Lung Cancer

Dr. Laurie Lerner is the medical director of the lung cancer screening program that's designed to detect and treat early signs of lung cancer.

Nov. 12, 2020 4   min read

Lung cancer screening program

More than 200,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. For patients whose cancer is detected in late stages, usually when symptoms develop, the prognosis is grim. Rochester Regional Health's Lung Cancer Screening Program offers high-risk patients a sophisticated way to monitor for lung cancer, using high-quality computed tomography (CT) imaging that reduces patients' exposure to radiation to less than a typical CT scan. The program is a collaborative effort that brings together Rochester Regional Health experts in thoracic imaging, pulmonary medicine, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and thoracic surgery.  

“The best hope for curing lung cancer is finding it as early as possible,” said Laurie Lerner, MD, medical director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program. “This low dose CT scan is sensitive enough to detect the earliest lung cancers before they can be detected on a normal chest x-ray, which gives our physicians and patients a head start on treating this cancer.”

Who Benefits?

The Lung Cancer Screening Program was created to promote early detection and treatment of lung cancer to help give patients the best chance for a cure and improve survival rates. The following patients are eligible to take part in the screening program:  

  • 50 to 80 years old (age requirements may differ by insurance)
  • current cigarette smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • smoking history of at least 20 pack-years (Pack-years is the number of cigarettes smoked per day multiplied by the number of years spent smoking, divided by 20)
  • no symptoms that could be related to lung cancer
  • not had a chest CT in the last 12 months

Check your eligibility

How the Program Works 

After confirming your eligibility for screening, we will perform a low-dose CT (LDCT) scan. LDCT scans can help find abnormal areas in the lungs that may be cancer. During the scan, you lie on a table and an X-ray machine uses a small amount of radiation to make detailed images of your lungs. The scan only takes a few minutes and is pain-free. There is no contrast required for this scan and no preparation for the exam.

Test results are typically available within 24-48 hours. If your scan is normal, you will receive a letter in the mail and will be placed on recall to receive a reminder letter to repeat the LDCT scan in one year as long as you remain eligible for the screening.

If lesions or nodules are found that require a follow-up, you will receive a telephone call from the program. You may undergo further tests to determine whether it’s actually cancer, or have repeat CT scans at recommended intervals. These decisions are based on the size, character, and number of nodules found.

Schedule Your Screening

Appointments for the Lung Cancer Screening Program and low-dose CT scans are available at various Rochester Regional Health locations; including Rochester General Hospital, Unity Hospital, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, Crosskeys and Alexander Park. For additional information about screening please contact your primary care provider, or you can contact the program directly at (585) 922-5285.

Find a location

If you are a current smoker, the Lung Cancer Screening Program offers guidance and resources on smoking cessation. 

NEXT STEPS Check Your Eligibility for the Lung Cancer Screening Program

We can often treat lung cancer if we find it early. That's why screenings are so important.

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Laurie B. Lerner, MD
Critical Care Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease
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