CHI Memorial, the Rees Skillern Cancer Institute and Buz Standefer Lung Center will introduce a mobile way to screen for lung cancer. ‘Breathe Easy’ is a mobile health coach with a low-dose computed tomography (CT) machine. This technology is the first of its kind in the Chattanooga region, and the only fully independent unit in the nation, officials said.
“Lung cancer is curable if we can catch it early. This screening is the best way to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages,” Rob Headrick, M.D., thoracic surgeon, CHI Memorial Chest and Lung Cancer Center. “The Breathe Easy mobile coach allows us to take this important screening tool out into our communities and reach people who may not have access or the opportunity to get this scan otherwise. It’s an important step toward changing the lung cancer statistics in the Chattanooga region.”
Lung cancer symptoms do not usually occur until the cancer is advanced, and may include persistent cough, sputum streaked with blood, chest pain, voice change, worsening shortness of breath and recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.
A low-dose CT screening can identify signs of lung cancer in otherwise healthy people.
The low-dose CT scan shows a 3-D image of the lungs that is clearer and more detailed than regular x-rays, allowing doctors to diagnose lung cancer at its earliest stage, before there are any symptoms. This is when lung cancer is most curable. The whole process takes less than ten minutes and there is no need to do anything special to prepare for the screening.
The low-dose CT lung cancer scan has been shown to improve survival by 20 percent according to The National Lung Screening Trial by the National Cancer Institute.
Private insurance companies cover lung cancer screening for high-risk individuals. Medicare and Medicaid also cover lung cancer screening. If you are age 50 or greater with a history of smoking, or a family history of cancer, or exposure to cancer causing agents (asbestos, diesel fumes, radon, coal smoke, or soot), call 423-495-LUNG (5864).
The Breathe Easy mobile lung CT coach will serve 11 counties in Tennessee, eight counties in North Georgia and two counties in Northeast Alabama.
The Breathe Easy mobile lung CT coach is made possible with the support of two anonymous donors to the CHI Memorial Foundation, and in partnership with Electric Power Board. Grantors are helping fund outreach efforts, and screenings for the underserved who will be reached by the mobile lung CT coach.
For more information about lung CT screening, call 423-495-LUNG (5864). To schedule the coach for an event, call 423-495-2540.