What is the Lung Cancer Screening Program?

The Lung Cancer Screening Program at WVU Cancer Institute Regional Cancer Center provides screenings, evaluations and counseling for lung cancer in high-risk populations. We use a Low Dose CT scan to screen for lung masses or nodules that could indicate lung cancer. As part of our program, we also offer resources and counseling for individuals who want to quit smoking.

Why is Early Detection Important?

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. West Virginia has a higher rate of lung cancer than the nation as a whole. In 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial found that screenings by low dose CT scans reduced lung cancer deaths up to 20 percent by detecting tumors in early stages. Detecting lung cancer early, before it spreads, can improve chances of survival because it is more likely to be successfully treated. Our goal is to provide early detection, diagnosis and treatment for individuals with lung cancer.

Who is Eligible?

The Lung Cancer Screening Program is designed to provide lung cancer screenings to high-risk populations. Medicare and most insurance plans will cover the cost for screening if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You are between the ages of 55-77
  • You have a greater than 30 pack-year smoking history*
  • You are a current smoker or have quit smoking in the past 15 years
  • You have not received a CT scan in the past 12 months
  • You have no symptoms of lung cancer

Click here for more information about calculating your pack-years.

What is Self-referral?

We accept self-referrals or referrals made by your primary care provider or specialist.

As part of self-referrals, you will be scheduled with a specialized nurse practitioner, who will do a complete history and physical exam to assess your lung cancer risk. She will order your LDCT scan, if you meet eligibility, and then will develop with you an individualized treatment plan to help meet your goals and improve the quality of your life.

To refer yourself online, fill out this form.

How Do I Get Screened?

Your primary care provider or a specialist can confirm eligibility and discuss the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening. Once your physician confirms eligibility, the nurse navigator will contact you to answer any questions and schedule a low dose CT scan. You will be contacted within 72 hours to discuss the results of the screening, and recommendations for follow-up will be communicated at that time. Your results will also be available in MyChart.

If necessary, you may be scheduled in the lung nodule clinic to discuss your plan of care with our multidisciplinary team. During this appointment, further diagnostic testing my be ordered.

What Can I Expect During Screening?

CT scans can detect very small nodules in the lung. They are especially effective for diagnosis lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. The test is pain-free and non-invasive. You do not need to do anything to prepare for your CT scan. You may be asked to remove jewelry or change into a hospital gown if your own clothing contains metal. The scan will only take a few minutes. A CT technologist will assist you onto the CT table where you will lie flat with your hands above your head. You will be instructed to hold your breath for a few seconds while the table moves through the scanner. Once the scan is complete, you will be able to leave. Your results will be communicated to you within 72 hours.

Why Is It Important to Stop Smoking?

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. Tobacco use accounts for nearly 90% of all lung cancers. Our multidisciplinary staff is available to provide education and support throughout the screening process. For additional support, contact 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669).

Who Do I Contact for Additional Information?

For more information about the Lung Cancer Screening Program, please contact Erin Bower, Lung Nodule Program Nurse Navigator, at 304-264-1287 Ext. 31279.

Lung Cancer Screening Program Overview

In 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial results showed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality with annual Low Dose CT scans for high-risk individuals. Detecting more lung cancers at an earlier stage leads to a better prognosis for patients. The Lung Cancer Screening Program at WVU Cancer Institute Regional Cancer Center strives to diagnose lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.

The Lung Cancer Screening Program features a multidisciplinary team of providers from primary care, radiology, interventional radiology, pumonology, thoracic surgery and medical and radiational oncology. The team uses Lung-RADS, established by ACR, to categorize low dose findings in the event of cancer. Each category is linked with specific recommendations for follow-up. Evaluation of any nodules detected during screenings follows an algorithm developed by the Lung Cancer Screening team. Led by pulmonology, the team reviews cases based on the algorithm and works together to develop a plan of care.

Results are communicated to patients within 72 hours. This includes a phone call, letter and access to the CT scan report on MyChart. The nurse navigator will also be in contact with the PCP regarding results including incidental findings and a plan of care established by the multidisciplinary team. Patients who have been referred to the Lung Cancer Screening Program will have their results entered into our ACR registry. This registry minimizes the number of patients who get lost in the system and do not follow-up with recommendations proposed by the program’s care team.

Patient Eligibility

If you have a patient that is at high risk for developing lung cancer and meets the eligibility requirements described below, you can refer them to our Lung Cancer Screening Program. Private insurance plans and Medicare will cover lung cancer screening with no out-of-pocket expenses if the patient:

  • Is between the ages of 55-77
  • Is a current smoker or former smoker who quit within the past 15 years
  • Has a 30 pack-year smoking history. Click here for pack-years calculator.
  • Has no symptoms of lung cancer
  • Has not received a chest CT scan in the past 12 months

Cigar smokers and other non-cigarette smokers are not eligible to participate in the Lung Cancer Screening Program at this time.

Shared Decision Making

Education and shared decision making discussions need to be performed and documented by the ordering provider for all baseline lung screening scans per CMS guidelines. This includes:

  • Determining patient eligibility to enter the Lung Cancer Screening Program based on the eligibility criteria detailed above
  • Explaining the benefits and potential complications of screening including:
    • reduced mortality rates from lung cancer
    • possibility of false-positive results leading to over-diagnosis
    • potential follow-up diagnostic tests as a result of screening
    • total radiation exposure
  • Discussing the significance of smoking cessation and providing resources and interventions if applicable
  • Advising the patient on the importance of adhering to annual lung cancer screenings

A shared decision aid must be utilized during this process. These aids can be provided by the Lung Cancer Screening Program Nurse Navigator. Click here for additional information about shared decision making.

Ordering Information

The order for lung cancer screening with low dose CT scan must include ALL of the following information. To view a sample order form click here. (link to be added) 

  • Date of birth
  • Pack-year history of smoking
  • Current smoking status
    • If a former smoker, the number of years since the patient quit
  • Ordering provider’s NPI
  • Share decision making documents
  • Insurance codes
  • Information documenting adherence to program eligibility guidelines including:
    • No concerning signs or symptoms of lung cancer
    • 12 months since patient’s last chest CT

Link to paper order to be added when available.

Screenshot of Epic order to be added when available.

Additional Information

For more information regarding the Lung Cancer Screening program, please contact Erin Bower, Nurse Navigator, at 304-264-1287 Ext. 31279.