By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian
Traditionally, chest X-rays have not been a good way for physicians to diagnose early lung cancer and subjecting patients to certain levels of radiation with a computed tomography (CT) scan without symptoms was not standard practice.
After an extensive study, however, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of 21 cancer centers, has recommended that longtime smokers who meet certain criteria can receive low-dose CT scans in an effort to look for early signs of lung cancer.
“What made me think of this is that this is a high-smoking population,” said Dr. John Azar, an oncologist who serves as the cancer committee chairman at Fairmont General Hospital as well as the oncology medical director at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown.
“If we can screen patients and find them at an early stage — and we have the capability of doing it in both hospitals — we can take care of this and eventually cure some lung cancer patients.”
Both Fairmont General and Mon General hospitals will begin offering the tests around the first part of July, Azar said.
WVU Healthcare, the umbrella organization for facilities such as WVU Hospitals and Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown, has been offering the test since early 2012, said Amy Johns, director of public affairs.