Participants in a lung cancer screening program at Lahey
Hospital & Medical Center are more likely to quit smoking and avoid relapse
than smokers nationwide, according to a new study in The Journal of Thoracic Disease.
The study followed almost 1,500 patients who were part of
the lung cancer screening program – which aims to detect cancer early through
low-dose CT scans when it is most treatable. The smoking cessation rate was
14.5 percent, more than twice the national average. The study also showed
participants were more likely to have quit the longer they remained in the
screening program, and that former smokers were less likely to relapse.
“Patients enrolled in our program have a long history of
tobacco addiction,” said Andrea McKee, MD, chair of the Department of Radiation
Oncology at Lahey, who has pioneered low-dose CT screening program and helped
hospitals around the world adopt similar programs. “These results support the
idea that screening longtime smokers at a higher risk of developing lung
cancer—and following up with regular scans—provides a teachable moment and
helps people finally quit smoking.”
Jane Erekson is one participant who has struggled to quit
smoking for much of her life, and smoked as many as four packs a day for 25
years. She once quit for a full decade, but started up again during a stressful
time in her life and smoked for 14 more years.
“I always tried to quit and it would last a few days, a
week, a month, even years, but I would always go back,” said Erekson, who works
as a clinical services manager in Lahey’s Radiology Department.
Erekson signed up for the lung cancer screening program in
December 2013, and even resisted quitting after an initial scan showed a nodule
on her lung. The final straw came several months later, when a follow-up scan
showed the nodule had grown. She signed up for Freedom from Smoking, a
complimentary tobacco cessation program offered at Lahey run by certified
Tobacco Treatment Specialist Peggy Russo.
“I wasn’t the easiest person to get into the program,” said
Erekson, who admitted she was embarrassed to be seen there by people she knew.
“But the fact that the scan showed the nodule had grown started to worry me and
I knew it was time to quit for good.”
Two years later, she’s still smoke free and a routine
follow-up scan recently showed the nodule on her lung had disappeared.
“I feel lucky that I work somewhere that offered these
services to people,” said Erekson. “And I’m happy to finally be done with
Interested in joining our low-dose CT lung screening program
or tobacco treatment programs?
Lung Screening Program
Tobacco Treatment Programs
Quitline: 781.756.7848 (QUIT).