Lung Nodule Program
What Is a Lung Nodule?
A lung nodule is a small, rounded growth in the lung. They’re fairly common — a nodule is found in at least 50 percent of people who have a CT scan of their chest.
Most lung nodules aren’t cancerous. However, all lung cancers start with a lung nodule. Since lung cancer can be more successfully treated when the cancer is found early, close monitoring of nodules is important.
Lung Cancer Risk Factors
Smokers and past smokers are at a much higher risk for lung cancer than nonsmokers. But you can still get lung cancer, even if you don’t smoke. Nonsmokers account for 15 percent of all lung cancer cases.
You’re at high risk for lung cancer if you:
- Are 55 or older.
- Have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
- Are currently a smoker or have quit within the past 15 years.
Low-Dose CT Scans
Eighty-six percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer learn they have it when the disease is already in stage four. If you’re at high risk for lung cancer, getting a yearly low-dose CT scan could save your life. It can help find cancer early, when you have more treatment options.
The scan creates a detailed 3D picture of your lungs. It's painless, and it uses 75 percent less radiation than a traditional CT scan — no medicine or needles required.
Medicare and most insurance covers low-dose CT scans for people at high risk. But if your insurance doesn’t cover the test, we offer a self-pay option that makes this test affordable.
Lung Nodule Navigator
Your primary care doctor is the head of your medical team. They’re in charge of the “big picture” when it comes to keeping you healthy. Our lung nodule navigator works closely with your primary care doctor to ensure you’re getting the necessary screenings, follow-ups and interventions when you need them. The navigator is the member of your team who’s laser-focused on monitoring your lung nodules.
Your lung nodule navigator will reach out to your primary care doctor whenever it’s time for your next CT scan, or will notify them when another treatment is advised. The navigator will expertly manage this area of your care — freeing you and your doctor to focus on the rest of your healthcare.
To talk to a navigator, call 650-940-7301.
What To Expect If You Have a Lung Nodule
When a lung nodule is found, the recommended course of action is often "watchful waiting." This means the nodule is monitored for growth or other indications that it may be cancerous. Monitoring of lung nodules can go on for years. If intervention is needed, your primary care doctor may refer you to other specialists for further evaluation.
Our lung nodule navigator is an advanced practice nurse who works with you and your primary care doctor to ensure:
- You receive counseling and education related to your diagnosis.
- You have access to the educational resources, tools and support you need, including tobacco cessation and relapse prevention counseling.
Talk to your doctor to find out if a lung cancer screening is right for you. El Camino Health offers an advanced, nonsurgical approach to examine lung nodules.
Tobacco Cessation and Relapse Prevention Counseling
Nicotine, a substance in all forms of tobacco, is physically and mentally addictive. It affects multiple systems in your body — including your brain. Once your body is addicted to it, which can happen quickly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t get it regularly. That’s why it’s so hard to quit.
Most people find that the best way to quit is using a combination of counseling and medication. Our tobacco counselor offers behavioral therapy, emotional support and prescription medicine to help you overcome your addiction.
The health benefits of quitting tobacco are endless. Your body begins to heal within minutes of smoking your last cigarette. Within the first several weeks of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop, and your lung function improves. The longer you go without tobacco, the more your body recovers. In fact, The U.S. Surgeon General says, “Tobacco cessation (stopping smoking) represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives.”
For help quitting tobacco, call our tobacco treatment specialist at 650-940-7301.