High-Risk Lung Cancer Program

At Roswell Park, more than 70 percent of patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer at an early stage (Stage I) survive three years. Our High-Risk Lung Program is designed to detect lung cancer early — when it is most curable — by screening and monitoring (“surveillance”) the people most likely to develop the disease, especially smokers.  
A quick call to our screening hotline 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) will determine whether you should be screened, and which test(s) you should have. An information specialist will ask you a few questions about whether you have ever had cancer before, your age, and how much you smoke in Pack/Years. Primary care physicians can also refer patients to Roswell Park for risk assessment and screening.

What are Pack/Years?

_____ number of packs you smoke a day X  _______ number of years you smoked = ______ Pack/Years

What’s involved?

The High-Risk Program involves a focused medical history, physical examination and two important tests to identify early-stage lung lesions or cancer. 
Bronchoscopy with Autofluorescence (aka “LIFE Bronchoscopy”) – This type of imaging system, which passes a tiny camera down the trachea to view the inside of the lungs central airways, has been shown to actually double the physician’s ability to see a tiny surface cancer in the airway. With autofluorescence, normal airway tissue will glow green, but darker areas that do not appear green are suspicious or abnormal. These are the areas our physicians will biopsy for pre-cancerous cells or early-stage cancer.
Low-Dose CT (LDCT) – This special scan can locates small cancers at the peripheral areas or edges of the lung that may elude detection by traditional X-ray or bronchoscope. With LDCT, the X-ray machine rotates around the patient, taking multiple images, which a computer reconstructs into a three-dimensional picture of the lungs. LDCT is quick and takes about 10 seconds to obtain a detailed picture of the lungs and the radiation dose is similar to a single chest x-ray.
You will receive a LDCT scan if you:
Are age 55 to 79 and smoked at least 30 pack/years.
You will receive BOTH LDCT and Life Bronchoscopy if you:
  • Had cancer of the lung, esophagus, head or neck
  • Are age 50 or older and with at least 20 Pack/Years PLUS one or more of these risk factors:
    • Long-term exposure (such as through work) to asbestos
    • Asbestos-related lung disease or pulmonary asbestosis
    • Emphysema or Chronic bronchitis
    • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
    • Family history (parent, sibling or child) of lung cancer
    • Long-term exposure (such as through work) to silica, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, diesel fumes, nickel, coal smoke and soot
The combination of bronchoscopy and spiral CT dramatically increases the ability of RPCI physicians to detect early-stage lungs cancers in any area of the lung. 

What’s next?

If your LDCT and bronchoscopy tests are normal, you will be scheduled to repeat the tests in one to three years depending on your risk factors. We can help enroll you in smoking cessation programs and other cancer prevention initiatives.
Whether your screening shows small abnormal lesions or advanced cancer, the lung cancer specialists at RPCI are here for you. We will arrange for any follow-up testing, biopsy or evaluation by the multidisciplinary treatment care team.
In addition, you may be eligible to participate in clinical research studies that focus on preventing lung cancer in people with early lung lesions. 
We recommend talking with your doctor about your own risk factors and the possible benefits and harms of being screened for lung cancer. Like many other medical decisions, the decision to be screened is a personal one. Your decision may be easier after learning the pros and cons of screening.
Think you may be at high risk?  Fill out our high-risk assessment form or call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) to determine your eligibility for screening.


High Risk Lung Cancer Program en Español

El programa de detección para personas con alto riesgo de cáncer del pulmón espara las personas que están preocupadas sobre su riesgo de desarrollo del cáncer.

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