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SEATTLE – (May 4, 2015) – Virginia Mason offers lung cancer screening for individuals considered at high-risk for developing the disease, based on their age and history of smoking.

The screening test uses low-dose computed tomography (CT) to identify lung abnormalities that could lead to cancer. In this test, a computerized X-ray machine scans the body within a few seconds, using low doses of radiation to make detailed pictures of the lungs.

“This is a fast and pain-free way to screen for lung cancer,” said pulmonologist Steven Kirtland, MD, chief of staff at the Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason. “The amount of radiation the patient is exposed to is just slightly more than a mammogram.”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommends yearly lung cancer screening via a low-dose CT scan for relatively healthy people who:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking, or
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
  • Are between 55 and 77 years old

Results from lung cancer screenings at the Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason are usually available within 24 hours.

“Pulmonary nodules are found in nearly one-quarter of the patients screened, but approximately 95 percent of nodules turn out to be non-cancerous,” Dr. Kirtland said. “The key to an effective screening program is to safely and efficiently identify which nodules are malignant so as not to delay therapy, while limiting invasive procedures in those patients with benign nodules. 

“When an abnormality is found, it often is discussed at our multi-disciplinary Tumor Board consisting of pulmonologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, medical oncologists and thoracic surgeons,” he added. “Together, the best plan of care is determined for that individual patient. Depending on many factors, including the specific nodule characteristics, location, and the patient’s condition, the next steps could include further CT scans, biopsy or surgery.”

Virginia Mason offers free, convenient resources to help individuals determine if they should schedule a lung cancer screening:

In 2013, cancer caused 584,881 deaths in the United States, second only to heart disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Virginia Mason has some of the best five-year survival rates for breast, bladder, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancer when compared with National Cancer Database and National Cancer Institute statistics.

Virginia Mason provides advanced cancer treatment by experts in an environment of hope and healing. Comprehensive treatment is provided for 16 types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic and prostate. At the Virginia Mason Cancer Institute, all aspects of care − from physician visits, to lab appointments, to the pharmacy – are provided to patients in one convenient location. Virginia Mason is accredited by the College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American College of Radiology. 

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs about 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website:

To learn more about Virginia Mason, please visit or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509


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