NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital Offers Free Lung Cancer Screenings

Nov 15, 2013

Cortlandt Manor, NY

a group of people posing for a photo

Ed Ajello said before he was diagnosed he had never given a thought to dying of lung cancer. Working in construction, Ajello said he faced danger many times as he dangled 50 stories above the ground.

"There were many times I thought I might die," said the Peekskill resident, who worked on Manhattan skyscrapers and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. "Lung Cancer was not the way I imagined it."

Ajello was one of several patients and family members who spoke at the "Shine A Light on Lung Cancer Vigil" Thursday night at Hudson Valley Hospital’s Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Cancer Center. The vigil was one of hundreds held across the nation as part of an effort by the Lung Cancer Alliance to raise awareness about Lung Cancer.

November is lung cancer awareness month and Hudson Valley Hospital officials took the opportunity at Thursday night’s vigil to announce that this month the hospital will begin offering free lung cancer screenings for high risk patients. The first two screenings were performed today.

Dr. Charles Abate, a pulmonologist who helped create the lung screening program at HVHC, said the screenings are a bit of good news in the war against lung cancer. The stigma of smoking he believes is partly responsible for the lack of attention and research funding lung cancer has received when compared to breast and other cancers. Far more women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, yet lung cancer receives only a fraction of the funding and attention, he said. Lung Cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide, killing more people than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.

Dr. Asim Aijaz, Medical Director of Oncology at HVHC, said that for years even physicians had lost hope because of the bleak prognosis for lung cancer patients. But recently he said new drugs and the advent of customized genetic treatments have given new hope to physicians and patients.

"When you talk about inspiration, it is you, my patients that inspire me," Aijaz told the audience.

Dr. Maurice Poplausky, Director of Radiology at HVHC, urged people in the community to sign up for the free low-dose CT screenings, that he said normally cost about $400. He said early detection was the key to fighting lung cancer. Without the screenings most people do not get treatment until they experience symptoms, often times too late for a cure, he said.

"We want people at risk to take action and get a screening," said Poplausky. "We know it saves lives."

Studies have shown that LDCT lung screening can lower the risk of death from lung cancer by 20% in people who are at high risk. Those considered high risk are men and women between 55 and 74 who currently smoke or who have quit smoking in the past 15 years and have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.
To find out if you are eligible for a free lung cancer screening, call the Lindenbaum Cancer Center at 914-293-8400.