NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A local hospital is highlighting a new program they hope will give the Lowcountry a step-up against lung cancer.
According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer cases in South Carolina have spiked nearly 10% in the past five years.
But a new program offered through Trident Health can identify nodules, which are one of the early signs of lung cancer.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Karen Gersch, MD with Palmetto Cardiovascular and Thoracic Associates, says early results indicate the program is successful.
“One of the unfortunate facts about lung cancer is that too many people learn they have the cancer when it’s already at an advanced stage, which means there is a low survival rate,” Dr. Gersch said, who leads the lung cancer program for Trident Health and Colleton Medical Center.
The program quickly identifies key access points which indicate a previously unknown lung nodule.
“By finding pulmonary nodules earlier, as small as six millimeters (about the width of a pea) we can determine quickly whether or not they are cancer,” said Dr. Gersch. If so, doctors can then schedule appropriate treatment.
Trident Health says the program was launched in 2019. They say more than n 700 patients have been identified with nodules meeting the six-millimeter criteria.
“Since January 1, 2021, Trident Health’s lung nodule early detection program has identified 272 patients with a lung nodule greater than six millimeters. Of the 272, 22 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer. Fifteen of them were able to have minimally invasive robotic surgery, according to Trident.
For criteria to participate in the lung cancer screening go to Trident Medical Center Lung Cancer Care at https://tridenthealthsystem.com/specialties/oncology/.