CINCINNATI—The University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute’s Lung Cancer Screening Program is partnering with the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program (BTMed) to offer preventive screening and early lung cancer detection for construction workers at high risk in the Greater Cincinnati region.
This collaboration will provide low-radiation dose chest computed tomography (CT) scans to screen for early-stage lung cancer in people who have been exposed to cancer-causing substances, such as asbestos, radon and silica, while working at Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, General Electric in Evendale or other Department of Energy (DOE) former nuclear-related facilities in the area.
Sandra Starnes, MD, John B. Flege, Jr. Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and associate professor at UC, a UC Health thoracic surgeon and co-leader of the UC Cancer Institute Comprehensive Lung Cancer Center, along with John Morris, MD, says this exciting partnership is a way to catch cancer in these high-risk populations as soon as possible.
"Individuals who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 30 years and are over the age of 55 are considered at the highest risk for development of lung cancer, but in individuals who work in these types of environments, the risks could be even higher,” she says. "Using low-radiation dose CT scans for screening, we can identify unrecognized disease in people who have no signs or symptoms and intervene earlier when disease is generally more treatable. We’re happy to be able to partner with BTMed to provide this service.”
She adds that scans are performed under a strict clinical protocol that capitalizes on the expertise of the entire multidisciplinary UC Cancer Institute Lung Cancer Team to produce the most accurate results for patients.
The program, which is beginning its third year and is the only program in the area that has a multidisciplinary team evaluating cases of those screened and treating them when necessary, is the first and only recognized in the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky region by the Lung Cancer Alliance for following best practices for screening residents who are at an increased risk for lung cancer.
Through this BTMed collaboration, screening as well as general physical exams are provided free of charge to former workers and participation is entirely voluntary. Former workers may be eligible for lung cancer screening if they performed construction work at any time at a DOE site locally or nationally.
BTMed uses national guidelines to determine who is eligible for a scan looking at age, smoking history, and occupational exposures. Smoking, combined with the effects of exposures to asbestos, radiation, silica and other lung cancer hazards make the risk for lung cancer high enough to need screening.
"This is an ongoing program in which BTMed screens workers from 27 different facilities around the United States,” says Chad Day, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Building Trades Council. "Sometimes, it’s difficult to locate former workers who are eligible because many have traveled to another state for work or because the contractor used to hire them might have then contracted with another company. We’re happy that BTMed offers these services to the construction workers who live in Ohio and hope that this partnership with UC will lead to earlier interventions.”
"Anytime we can help individuals with these exposures and provide them with services needed to have a better quality of life, it’s a good thing,” says Lou Doll, the outreach manager for Fernald BTMed program, who helps locate and enroll former workers.
Since BTMed has been offering these lung cancer screening services nationally, they’ve already diagnosed 11 cancers and have screened 500 people.
"The survival rate for lung cancer is about 15 percent, but found in the early stages, that number increases to 85 percent,” says Laura Welch, MD, medical director for BTMed. "We only partner with programs that follow a strict protocol, like the one at the UC Cancer Institute. It’s also important to get at-risk participants who are still smoking to stop, and the UC Comprehensive Lung Cancer Center has a necessary smoking cessation component to it.
"UC is at the top of their game, with dedicated radiologists and great patient outcomes. We’re very happy to be partnering with them to help workers in this area.”
To learn more about the UC Cancer Institute Lung Cancer Screening Program, visit www.uchealth.com/lungcancer.
For more information on the program, or to see if you are eligible for lung cancer screening, visit www.btmed.org.