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Feature Article

Early-stage Lung Cancer Detection Program Launched

Samaritan recently rolled out the first phase of its lung cancer screening program.

“Early‑stage lung cancer screening programs have really only evolved in the last 10 years and up to this point, have primarily been led by larger institutions,” said Clinical Research Manager Anthony Franklin, with Samaritan Research & Quality Department.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women and is the leading cause of U.S. cancer death.

“Often lung cancer goes undetected until symptoms present, which means it has reached a more advanced stage, making it harder to treat,” said Vanessa Mizak, FNP, with Samaritan Medical Group Pulmonology – Corvallis and lead practitioner for the lung cancer screening program. “That is why the lung cancer screening program may benefit higher‑risk patients that are not  yet showing signs or symptoms.”

Many factors are considered before screening begins such as age and smoking history. Patients must be 50 to 77 years old and have 20 or more years of smoking history and either be a current smoker or have quit within the past 15 years.

Once evaluated, eligible patients receive a low-dose CT scan. Based on the results, a follow‑up care plan is created. “I have received a lot of positive response from my
patients — many saying ‘OK, let’s get it done!”

Some patients may be a bit averse but that doesn’t mean the conversation stops.

“I continue to broach the topic of smoking and reiterate the importance of screenings and how they save lives,” said Mizak. “Because at the end of the day, it’s about taking care of the community, being honest about smoking and the health benefits of quitting.”

If you think you meet the criteria for this program, talk to your provider about getting a referral to Vanessa Mizak, FNP, or James Knight, MD, with Samaritan Medical Group Pulmonology – Corvallis.