Dr. Gavin Henry

Gavin Henry, MD, FACS

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in Maryland, accounting for more than 24 percent of all cancer deaths in 2016.

But it doesn't have to be.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Cancer Network are working to save lives through integrated multidisciplinary care and comprehensive lung cancer screenings that detect cancer early.

"Lung cancer screenings can make a tremendous difference to a patient's overall prognosis," said Gavin Henry, MD, FACS, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and thoracic and general surgeon at University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. "About 70 percent of all lung cancer patients present in stage three or stage four, and their five-year survival rate is usually below 20 percent. But if you find the cancer early in stage one, the five-year survival rate can be up to 90 percent."

Patients who are age 55 to 77 years, a current smoker or have quit in the last 15 years, have smoked a pack a day or more for 30 years and do not currently have any signs of lung cancer should be screened for the disease.

Smokers are 20 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers, so it's especially important for doctors to discuss screenings with their patients, Henry said.

The screening process is simple. The first step for primary care physicians is to provide patients with a referral to a UM Cancer Network lung program. Patients then meet with an advanced practice provider, who will review how the screening works. Radiology technologists perform the screenings, which use non-invasive, low-dose CT technology. If any abnormalities are found, a multidisciplinary team of experts, including pulmonologists, radiologists and thoracic surgeons, will review screening results and then meet with patients to discuss treatment options.

"When we conduct these screenings, we find medical issues that may be related to lung cancer but also some that may not," Henry said. "That's why it's great to have so many providers involved. We have the expertise to address findings quickly and thoroughly."

Ready to refer a patient for a lung cancer screening? Click on the links below to learn more about these life-saving screenings at the UM Cancer Network.