Lung cancer screening targets deadliest cancer

Same-day imaging and consultation

June 12, 2014
Mohsen Davoud, MD, UCI Health pulmonologist and lung cancer expert

Smokers and ex-smokers know their tobacco use has put them at risk for lung cancer. They face the persistent anxiety that cancer cells are quietly gathering force in their lungs. Now there is a way to calm that worry.

UCI Health offers same-day lung cancer screening, using low-dose computed tomography (CT), to individuals considered at high risk for lung cancer, the deadliest of all cancers. When cancer is detected early — long before symptoms appear — treatment is more successful.

Periodic lung scans using low-dose CT have been shown to be an efficient, cost-effective strategy for finding early lung cancer and reducing death rates.

“It’s a revolution in the diagnosis and care of lung cancer,” says UCI Health pulmonologist Dr. Mohsen Davoudi, chief of the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at the UC Irvine School of Medicine. “This has the potential to completely change the way we treat lung cancer.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, low-dose CT is recommended for high-risk individuals who meet specific criteria. These include people over age 50 who have a significant smoking history, along with other risk factors and exposures. Low-dose CT screening is now recommended once a year for these individuals.

Davoudi says the amount of radiation used in the procedure is considered safe and is equivalent to a mammogram. The results of the exam are available the same day. If the low-dose CT is abnormal, a plan of care with state-of-the-art options is devised, so the patient leaves with peace of mind.

The screening effort is based on a decade-long, national study that found high-risk people who underwent screening had a 20 percent lower relative risk of dying from lung cancer compared to people who received standard screening chest X-rays. Small nodules that are found to be early cancer can be cured up to 70 percent of the time, Davoudi says.

UCI Health specialists in interventional pulmonology, including Davoudi, make up one of the few full-service teams on the West Coast, providing a broad range of diagnostic and treatment services for lung cancer. Tumor samples undergo molecular "fingerprinting" to develop therapies tailored to each patient’s specific genetic markers. Patients also have access to promising new treatments offered in clinical trials.

According to national guidelines, low-dose CT lung cancer screening should be performed only at a center that is equipped to provide the comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services that may be necessary to deal with patients’ needs, Davoudi notes.

“Every single contingency should be available before you embark on screening someone,” he says. UCI Health has the training and systems in place to do every possible type of procedure or imaging.

“For the first time since the advent of modern medicine, we now have the opportunity to defeat this deadliest of all cancers,” says Davoudi. “We are very excited that now our patients in Orange County and Southern California have access to a tool that has the opportunity to make lung cancer a treatable disease.”

For more information or to schedule a screening, call 855-UCI-LUNG (855-824-5864).

— UCI Health Marketing Communications