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UPMC Opens New Specialty Clinic for Smokers, Offers Early Screenings That Could Save Lives

PITTSBURGH, July 7, 2011 – UPMC has established a new specialty clinic that will offer early lung cancer screening using low-dose helical CT scanning, a technique that was proven in a national trial to reduce deaths because tumors were detected early when treatment is more effective.

The Lung Nodule Clinic, located on the fourth floor of Falk Clinic in Oakland, is intended to screen current and former heavy smokers, said Christopher Faber, M.D., medical director of the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center. Smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer, the most common cancer in adults. 

“Patients will be evaluated to see if they are candidates for the screening test,” explained Dr. Faber. “If they are, they will participate in a one-hour, eight-person, group-educational session led by a nurse coordinator, followed by a low-dose helical CT scan.” 

A low-dose helical CT scan, also referred to as spiral CT, uses X-rays to obtain a multiple-image scan of the entire chest during a 7 to 15 second breath-hold. Patients will be strongly encouraged to quit smoking during the educational session, which will include smoking cessation information. Results of the CT scan will be sent to the patient and their primary care physician. 

This new fee-for-service clinic grew out of the findings of the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Screening Trial, a randomized national trial that involved more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74 and compared the effects of two screening procedures for lung cancer ― low-dose helical CT scans and standard chest X-ray ― on lung cancer mortality. The study found 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths and a 7 percent reduction in overall mortality among the trial participants who were screened with low-dose helical CT. 

“The results of this study are very important, suggesting that many Americans who smoke should not only quit smoking, but also undergo lung cancer screening, both of which will reduce lung cancer mortality rates, said Mark Gladwin, M.D., chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The lung screening program currently is not covered by insurance. The out-of-pocket fee of $200 includes the nurse coordinator-led class, CT scan and valet parking.

For more information or to see if you qualify for the screenings, call 1-855-588-6542.

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