Early detection is key against lung cancer

When it comes to lung cancer, early detection is key. Seventy-five percent of cancer cases in Maine are detected too late and, as a result, are less likely to be curable. Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Lung Cancer Screening Program is one way patients are discovering potential issues earlier, resulting in more treatment options, and leading to brighter and better outcomes.

To make the screening process more convenient for people in rural areas, Eastern Maine Medical Center partners with hospitals in smaller communities, where patients can have a low-dose CT scan done closer to home.

At Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville, staff have witnessed how the collaboration helps patients remain in their community for the CT scan. Instead of driving to Bangor for a five-minute scan, patients are scanned with state-of-the-art equipment right at Inland Hospital.

Once the scan is complete, the program’s review board quickly assesses all concerning scans and helps the patient make a treatment plan if needed. The patient navigator team is a partner in everything from tracking appointments to working with the patient’s local primary care provider.

“Having this program is so important because early-stage lung cancer is asymptomatic,” says Amy McClary, RN, practice manager, Cardiothoracic Surgery and Lung Cancer Screening Program. “A lot of the cancers we find are people who just came in for their normal scan, had no symptoms, and didn’t even realize they were walking around with this cancerous lung nodule in them. The symptoms for lung cancer don’t appear until very late stage when there are fewer treatment options available,” explains McClary.

Visit www.northernlighthealth.org/EMMCLCS to see eligibility requirements, screening locations, or for more information.