In conjunction with Norwalk Hospital's low-dose computed tomography lung cancer-screening program, the hospital now offers free lung cancer screenings for people at risk.
"This is a life-saving test," said Dr. Alan Richman, chairman of the hospital's Department of Radiology. "In these difficult economic times, we do not want cost to be a barrier and we want to help people readily access the screenings."
Those at risk, according to Richman, are current or former heavy smokers between the ages of 55 and 79 years.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and in women. According to the American Cancer Society, each year more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. The ACS also estimates that there will be 159,480 deaths from lung cancer -- 87,260 in men and 72,220 among women) in 2013.
Norwalk Hospital's low-dose CT lung cancer-screening program was based upon the findings of the National Lung Screening Trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Since then, 350 patients were screened through the Norwalk Hospital program and six seemingly healthy people without symptoms were diagnosed with lung cancer.
Studies have shown that treatment for lung cancer is more effective and the likelihood of death decreases significantly if it is detected early through screening.
Norwalk Hospital's free program has a three-part benefit, according to Dr. James Bauman, director of the lung cancer-screening program. In addition to the "low-dose" non-contrast CT -- which produces a three-dimensional image of the lungs for early detection of lung cancer -- a coronary calcium score is calculated from the information available from this study.
"This can improve risk assessment for heart disease when added to traditional risk factors," Bauman said. A smoking cessation program is also offered by Norwalk Hospital to active smokers who enroll in this screening program.
For more information, call 1-855-4CHESTCT.