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Lung Cancer Screening Saves Veterans Lives

U.S. Army Veteran Jim Altman receives lung cancer screening facilitated by CT Technologist, Miguel Santiago at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.

U.S. Army Veteran Jim Altman receives lung cancer screening facilitated by CT Technologist, Miguel Santiago at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.

By Melanie L. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist, Bay Pines VAHCS
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) is actively pursuing ways to deliver the best in health care for America’s heroes. Providing personalized, proactive, patient-driven care and empowering Veterans to make important health related decisions are at the forefront of the organization’s strategic plan.

An important area of focus in the strategic plan identifies seamless oncology care as a tactic in moving the organization toward becoming a five-star health care system. Improving access to services, like lung cancer screening, is one of the ways in which the health care system is enhancing positive health outcomes for Veterans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. Unfortunately, the prognosis after diagnosis is poor. About 90 percent of the cases identified will inevitably lead to death.

“Early identification of lung cancer leads to more effective treatments. Research has proved that lung cancer screening programs can help save lives,” said Dr. Dominique Thuriere, Chief of Staff, Bay Pines VAHCS.

“Providing lung cancer screening with Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) is essential to our overall goal to drive health, prevent disease, and advance the cure for America’s heroes,” she said.

In a process of shared decision making between a Veteran and his or her provider, Veterans have the choice to be voluntarily screened for lung cancer at Bay Pines.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) recommends an annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT for adults aged 55 to 80 years-old, who have a history of smoking 30 or more packs of cigarettes per year, who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years, and have a life expectancy of more than 5 years. More information about LDCT lung cancer screening can be accessed here:

Cardiothoracic Radiologist Dr. Maria Harvey spearheaded the development of the lung cancer screening program at Bay Pines VAHCS.

“To date, we have performed over 2,000 LDCT lung cancer screening exams. Review of our data has shown our cancer detection rate at Bay Pines is about 1.135 percent, a number that is comparable to the results from a National Lung Cancer Screening Trial recently conducted. I am happy to report that LDCT for lung cancer screening is already saving lives at Bay Pines,” she said.

Dr. Harvey recently participated on a lung cancer screening interdisciplinary project team, providing support to develop guidelines for the newly implemented screening standards for facilities and health care systems across VHA.

“I am very proud to work at a facility that provides such exemplary care to our Veterans. Bay Pines is ahead of the curve on LDCT for lung cancer screening. We have a great team of people who made that possible,” Dr. Harvey explained.

Radiology staff (left to right): Dr. Bruce Kudryk, Dr. Julio Sandoval, Dr. Igor Sirotkin, Dr. Eric Lenz, Dr. Maria Harvey, Dr. Patrick Dougherty and Dr. Alex Hayes

In addition to offering Veterans LDCT lung cancer screenings, Bay Pines VAHCS is working to improve access for Veterans receiving cancer treatment through the construction of a new 17,375-square-foot cancer infusion/chemotherapy center on the north side of the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center Campus. The new center will be connected to the existing radiation oncology center. To learn more about Bay Pines VAHCS’s modernization efforts, please visit: or read the winter edition of Bay Visions by clicking here.

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