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Lung cancer program piloting at Skiff


February 25, 2018

Skiff Medical Center is proud to now be serving as a pilot hospital for the Mercy Lung Cancer Screening Program, which is designed to provide early cancer detection for an at-risk population.

Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in American adults, as well as the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and the world. More people in America die from lung cancer than from prostate, breast and colon cancers combined. Most cases are linked to tobacco smoking.

This program is vital, because early detection of lung cancer through CT screening of people at high risk of lung cancer has been shown to decrease lung cancer deaths by 20 percent. In fact, if caught early, lung cancer can be curable.

“Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines has provided this program for only a few years, and Skiff is the first small hospital in Mercy Health Network to be able to offer it,” said radiology technologist Julie Hauber, who is serving as the coordinator for Skiff’s program. “We are fortunate to be included in these early stages, but at the same time, be able to take advantage of Mercy’s expertise, so we’re not starting from scratch. This is a program that numerous doctors have asked for numerous times.”

“Having a hospital our size be part of this screening program is a big deal,” said Sonja Ranck, Skiff’s Chief Operating Officer. “This provides low-dose CT screening for smokers who haven’t been diagnosed with cancer but are at risk. It is a screening test, rather like mammograms for breast cancer, but designed for a population at high risk for lung cancer. There aren’t a lot of small facilities offering this yet. We consider it a great benefit for the patients here in Newton and the surrounding areas.”

Specialty organizations such as The American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommend lung cancer screening for patients who are at high risk of lung cancer. Risk factors include:

  • Age 55-77
  • A current or former smoker with a smoking history of at least 30 “pack-years” (for example, one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.)

Patients who believe they meet the criteria as high risk for lung cancer and wish to enroll in the program should make an appointment with their primary care provider. If the patient and their physician decide the program is appropriate for them, their physician will provide them with a written order for the test, and work with Julie on the next steps.

The screening test will be performed on Skiff’s low-dose CT scanner, with the machine scanning a patient’s chest as they briefly hold their breath. The scan is simple, easy and painless, and offers a reduced radiation dose, just slightly more than a chest X-ray, but much less than a regular CT scan of the lungs. The CT scan provides the clearest image of the lung tissue and helps to detect nodules. These small rounded spots are common, and about 97 percent are noncancerous. A nodule can, however, represent early lung cancer. Once completed, the CT scan will be interpreted by an experienced chest radiologist, and patients will receive their results within one to two weeks.

If the scan indicates possible lung cancer, and that diagnosis is confirmed by further tests, patients will be referred to the cancer specialists at Skiff and Mercy to create a treatment plan.

“Jasper County has a fairly high smoking population,” Hauber said, “so we know there are a considerable number of people at risk for lung cancer. Hopefully, this program will find cancers earlier and help us to save lives.”

For further information, contact Hauber at (641) 791-4310 or jhauber@skiffmed.com.

Skiff Medical Center
204 N. 4th Ave E.
Newton, Iowa 50208
Phone: (641) 792-1273
Toll-free: (888) 792-1273

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At Skiff, the best care is close to home.
Skiff Medical Center, a member of Mercy Health Network, is located in Newton, Iowa. We provide services to Jasper County residents in all major health areas, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, obstetrics, emergency medicine, hospice, home care, laboratory, respiratory, audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The Skiff Specialty Clinic hosts more than 20 physicians specializing in cardiology, dermatology, ENT, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, pulmonology and urology.
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