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Friday, November 1, 2013

Free lung scans offered to military vets at Franciscan St. Francis in November

Countless veterans serving in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam
 War were exposed to the potent herbicide, Agent Orange, which
has been linked to many deadly maladies, including lung cancer.
INDIANAPOLIS – No one better than a military veteran understands the potentially grim consequences of going into harm’s way. And sometimes those dangers do not manifest until long after he or she trades in their uniform for civilian clothes.

This November, in honor of American veterans and in observance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Franciscan St. Francis Health is offering free lung scans to at-risk veterans all month long.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death nationally and causes more deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.  Veterans have a 25-50 percent higher risk of lung cancer than civilian populations due to higher smoking rates and exposure to known carcinogens during active duty, such as Agent Orange, asbestos and battlefield combustibles.

According to the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), currently 32.2 percent of active duty military personnel smoke versus 19.8 percent of adults in the civilian population and 22 percent of veterans.

 “As a lung cancer screening center, we believe it’s important that we provide safe screenings to at-risk populations,” said Nadeem Ikhlaque, MD, lung cancer program medical director at Franciscan St. Francis Cancer Center. “Risk assessment and early detection of lung cancer are especially crucial for veterans as they have a significantly higher risk of the disease than the civilian population.”

While lung cancer may take decades to develop, symptoms do not usually occur until the cancer has progressed into late stages where survival rates are diminished. Screening those at high risk with low-dose CT scans can identify lung cancer at an early and most curable stage even before symptoms occur.

Franciscan St. Francis Health is among 14 medical centers nationally – and the only hospital in Indiana – to participate in the free screenings initiative, which is spearheaded by LCA and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

To qualify for the free screening, you must be between the ages of 55 and 75, a long-time smoker and veteran of U.S. armed forces. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 1-877-888-1777.

“Screening for lung cancer using low-dose radiation CT scans has the potential to save thousands of lives,” said Ikhlaque. “We encourage all veterans to learn more about their risk and to consider a lung screening.”