East Texas residents across the region will have the opportunity to undergo free lung cancer screenings during the second week of November in honor of lung cancer awareness month.
From Nov. 8 through 12, Christus Trinity Mother Frances is hosting a number of screenings across Tyler, Palestine and Jacksonville at no cost to patients.
Dr. Suman Sinha, chief of pulmonary medicine at Christus Trinity Clinic and director of the Lung Nodule Program, explained why the event is important to East Texas.
“Smoking is related to not only lung cancer, but other lung cancers, including pancreatic cancer. It’s related to many other cancers, including pancreatic cancer, but it’s also related to heart disease, stroke, COPD, what we call peripheral vascular disease,” he said.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2021 alone there have been 235,760 new cases of lung cancer and about 131,880 deaths.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, making up almost 25% of all cancer deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Only 18% of lung cancers occur in non-smokers.
Sinha said for this reason, lung cancer should be seen in a different light.
In 2015, lung screenings were introduced in the United States, just as breast, colon, prostate and cervical screenings. Prior to 2015, Sinha said there was no screening program for lung cancer.
“That’s one of the reasons we had so many deaths in lung cancer, because we were finding that cancer at a late stage, and that was because of the absence of a screening program,” he said.
While other cancers were being found in early stages, lung cancers were found in stages 3 and 4. Doctors are now focusing on early screenings and education on prevention, especially during the month of November.
Dr. Steven Curley, Oncology Institute medical director and chief of Surgical Oncology at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital added screenings are important because the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed preventive care.
“Because of COVID-19, the number of patients getting screenings for cancer in 2020 and early 2021 dropped by about 75%. Now that COVID is slowly getting under control, we really want to encourage people to come out,” Curley said.
He added physicians are seeing patients with more advanced cancer because they’ve been scared to come in and get screening, or they’ve ignored symptoms for too long.
Free lung cancer screenings will be held at
The main Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, located at 800 E. Dawson St. in Tyler
The Louis and Peaches Owens Heart Hospital, located at 703 S. Fleishel Avenue Tyler
CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic Magnolia Medical Plaza — Palestine, located at 3201 South Loop 256 in Palestine
Christus Trinity Clinic Jacksonville, located at 2026 S. Jackson St. in Jacksonville.
Christus Trinity Clinic Health Park Plaza, located at 1327 Troup Highway in Tyler
The first step to schedule a free lung cancer screening is to contact the lung cancer screening navigator at 903-606-2537.
After requesting the screening, the patient can expect a same-day call back confirming an appointment with a physician to go through a shared decision-making discussion, which will also be free. Spanish speaking staff will be available.
Appointments for the discussion are available in person, over the phone or by video. Here, patients can expect to hear the risks and benefits of undergoing screening for lung cancer and an introduction to smoke cessation. The discussion between doctor and patient is required by law prior to writing a prescription for a CT scan. This appointment can also be made with a primary care physician, who will be contacted by Christus once the lung screening has been requested.
Criteria for the CT scan screening for lung cancer are
Must be between the ages of 50 to 80
Must have smoked 20 pack years, for example, one pack per day for 20 years or half a pack a day for 40 years
Must be a current smoker or have had quit within the last 15 years
Also this month, Christus held a health fair at John-Soules Food and at the 2021 Senior Health and Living Expo, where they provided shared decision-making discussions.
On Nov. 25, Christus will be hosting the Great American Smokeout to educate about smoking cessation.