Although a pack of cigarettes goes for upward of $13, there are still plenty of Queens residents willing to pay the price with their money and health.
That’s something that the lung cancer screening program at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills hopes to change.
“It’s important for us to reach out to the community,” said Julissa Jurado, MD, a thoracic surgeon at the hospital. “Lung cancer is not as publicized as breast or colon cancer, but it is the leading cause of death in both men and women.”
On average, roughly 700 borough residents die each year from lung-related cancer, according to 2010-2014 New York State Department of Health data. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer.
“With lung cancer screenings, we’re able to catch the disease early when it’s most treatable,” said Dr. Jurado.
Understand lung cancer screenings
Lung cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms until the cancer is more advanced. For that reason, screenings are vital to help identify the disease as soon as possible to improve patient survival rates.
To be eligible for a lung screening at LIJ Forest Hills, participants must be between the ages of 55 and 77 and have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years.
Screenings are covered by most insurance programs, including Medicare, explained Leyla Edwards, manager of the hospital’s lung cancer screening program.
The screening includes a low-dose CT scan that creates a 3D picture of the chest which can detect very small spots or nodules. Results of the five-minute scan are usually available within 48 hours.
A small nodule may just require monitoring for any changes in size. A larger one may need to be removed through minimally invasive surgery at the hospital, explained Dr. Jurado, who specializes in surgeries involving the lungs, esophagus, mediastinum and trachea.