LUMBERTON — Southeastern Health will begin offering a lung cancer screening program on Oct. 1 that will be used for early detection of lung cancer in current and former smokers.
To qualify for the screening, patients must be over the age of 50 and must be a smoker or former smoker. Patients should meet with their primary care physicians to see if they qualify for the screening. If patients do not have a primary care physician, Southeastern Health can assist with finding one for them.
“Southeastern Health offers the only lung cancer screening program in the area,” Radiation Oncology Manager Shari Kinlaw said. “It is a great opportunity to take charge of your health.”
The screening is done through a low-dose computed tomography scan of the lung. The scan takes about five minutes and patients are not required to undress.
“It is all about early detection. The sooner the detection, the better the outcome and opportunity for a possible cure,” Kinlaw said. “Once patients visit their primary care physicians, they can get the screening on a walk-in basis at Gibson Cancer Center, the Medical Imaging Department at Southeastern Regional Medical Center or Lumberton Radiological Associates.”
The cost of the screening is $75; it is not covered by insurance.
“Due to the fact that at this time the screening is not covered by any type of insurance, we decided to charge a minimal fee in order to offer a much-needed service to the community, not to make a profit,” Kinlaw said.
Southeastern Health employees also have the option of having the cost deducted from their payroll.
Sharon Kinlaw, who is not related to Shari, an employee of Gibson Cancer Center, will be the first patient to be screened under the new program.
“I smoked for many, many years and need to have the screening,” Kinlaw said. “The quicker I find out my health status, the better the outcome. The screening process is a great opportunity to ease my mind of possible lung cancer. It is a great opportunity for not only me, but also for the community.”
Once a patient is screened, it takes about a week to get the results. The patient will be notified and any necessary follow-ups will be scheduled accordingly. Patients who meet the screening criteria should get the screening once a year.
For information about the lung cancer screening process or to find a primary care physician, call 910-735-8818.
This story was submitted by Elizabeth Locklear, a Southeastern Health intern. She currently attends The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.