Samantha SarrisLinda Dowling, BSN, RN, lung cancer screening coordinator (R. with patient)

Lung Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Demonstrating Positive Outcomes Through Screening and Support

Lung cancer screening by low dose CT scan (LDCT), has been demonstrated to reduce mortality by 20 percent. The Rush lung cancer screening program was implemented shortly after Medicare and private insurance reimbursement began in 2015.

Establishing a lung cancer screening program is a complex process. Screening best practices endorse nurse oversight and collaboration with ordering providers, which include a multidisciplinary team comprised of thoracic radiology, surgery, pulmonology, oncology, and research.

In conjunction with physician outreach to primary care, the program evolved and grew during year-two implementation:

  • Volume of baseline (initial) scans completed FY17 increased by 35 percent compared to FY16
  • Eight lung cancers were detected (3.3 percent detection rate) with the majority Stage I or Stage II disease
  • Data submission to a screening registry began and plans were formulated to automate the process
  • In collaboration with thoracic radiology, the team submitted and received first place in the 2017 Quality & Safety Fair as the "Most Impactful Efficiency/Value Based Improvement"
  • Patient navigation expanded to Rush Oak Park Hospital
  • Unique marketing communications approaches included two Rush In-Person blog articles showing positive outcomes of lung cancer screening from patient and RN perspectives

The lung cancer screening RN meets patients following the LDCT. The visit offers the opportunity to address patient questions and invite patients to participate in a lung cancer research trial.

Approximately 50 percent of screening patients smoke, therefore, interventions to help patients quit tobacco is an important component of lung cancer screening best practices. Recognizing this need, the program coordinator began offering monthly onsite tobacco cessation classes.

Additionally other collaborative relationships were forged and continued to grow, including the following:

  • Collaboration with the Illinois Tobacco Quitline, a relationship that has led to a current project to automate Quitline referrals
  • Engagement with Population Health to develop and refine community and system-wide tobacco cessation program offerings

These examples show that through nurse leadership and empowerment, the lung cancer screening program has a solid foundation and will continue to save lives.

New Knowledge