This is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the SIH Cancer Institute is launching a public information campaign about the importance of screenings.
Institute medical director Dr. Mary Rosenow says the facility has been doing lung cancer screenings for about a year now and has worked out the bugs in the system. She says screenings literally save lives.
"Without screening, fully 2/3 of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage and are essentially incurable. With screening, fully 2/3 of cases diagnosed are at an early stage and potentially curable."
Dr. Rosenow says annual low-dose lung screenings can help detect cancers in the early stages, increasing treatment options.
"It's a ten second, non-invasive test. It can give a person who has been smoking for many years some piece of mind. (It) also gets them into the system so we can try to motivate and support people who want to quit smoking. "The message is to people who think they might be eligible is call your primary care doctor and have the office contact the lung cancer screening program. The more that gets out to the public the better."
SIH lung cancer patient navigator Carrie Winters says they're reaching out to doctors to make them aware of the screenings.
"We have been going to a lot of the meet and greets to let our primary cares know around the area that we are here, we are available for the patients to get the screening done. That's been our biggest goal so far."
While lung cancer rates are declining nationally, the opposite is occurring in southern Illinois because of a higher smoking rate.