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Lung Nodule Program

Early Detection Can Help Save Lives
877-909-LUNG

If you are 55 with a history of smoking, call the MVHS lung nurse navigator at 877-909-LUNG!

The Lung Nodule Program offers the opportunity for patients to receive screenings that can detect lung cancer before any symptoms appear and help save lives of those at high risk for lung cancer. Participants in the program are screened on a regular basis and their health is monitored by a team of caregivers, including a lung nurse navigator, a cardiothoracic surgeon and a critical care specialist. The lung nurse navigator serves as a resource for participants throughout the program to coordinate care and work with their physicians to determine the best options for each individual participant.

Q: Am I a candidate for lung cancer screening?

A: If you meet the following criteria, you are considered to be at “high risk” for developing lung cancer and screening is recommended:

  • 55-80 years of age
  • 30 pack-year history of smoking (1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
  • Current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years.

If you meet the above criteria, call the MVHS lung navigator at 877-909-LUNG.

Q: Why is lung cancer screening only recommended for a certain group of people?

A: Experts look at the available data and use complex equations to determine who should be screened. If you are not in the high-risk group that means data has not yet shown that the benefits of screening outweigh your risks.

Q: Should I get a low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer?

A: If you are at high risk, talk with your doctor about participating in the MVHS Lung Nodule Program. Screening for lung cancer may save your life. There are some risks and not everyone should be screened, so discuss your complete health history and the benefits and risks with your doctor.

Q: What happens if I choose to get a low-dose CT scan for lung cancer?

A:  MVHS has a team of experts who will clearly explain the procedure to you. The team will tell you about all the risks and benefits of the screening and discuss what the results can mean and how they will follow up with you after the initial screening.

Q. What do the results mean?

A. A "positive" result means that the low-dose CT scan shows something abnormal. This is usually a nodule of a concerning size. You may need to have additional scans or other procedures to find out exactly what it is. The lung nurse navigator will discuss the next steps with you and your physician.

A "negative" result means there were no abnormal findings on this low-dose CT scan. It does not mean that you will never get lung cancer. The lung nurse navigator and your doctor can help you determine when you should be tested again.

There may also be an "indeterminate" result and your doctor may recommend watchful follow-up and further imaging at a later time.

The best way to reduce your lung cancer risk is to never smoke or stop smoking now. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit.

Lung Nurse Navigator – Teresa Inkawhich, RN

Teresa Inkawhich, BA, RN, is the lung nurse navigator for the Lung Nodule Program at the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS). This new program is a collaboration between Cancer Services and the Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery program.  As the lung nurse navigator, Inkawhich will assist Primary Care providers in our community identify high-risk lung cancer patients who meet the criteria for lung cancer screening and monitor these patients in the program. Inkawhich will also be the primary point of contact for patients and families if a lung cancer diagnosis is made, and will offer individualized assistance to help overcome healthcare system barriers and facilitate timely access to quality health from pre-diagnosis through all phases of the cancer experience.

Inkawhich has been an employee of St. Elizabeth Medical Center since 1992 and started her nursing career in the Telemetry/Ventilator unit.  She then worked in the Ambulatory Cardiac Care Unit as a staff and charge nurse for several years. Inkawhich also worked as an Infection Preventionist for a number of years and most recently was the Lead Quality Professional at the St. Elizabeth Campus.

Inkawhich received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania and her Associate of Applied Science from St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in Utica, New York.

Inkawhich can be reached at 1-877-909-LUNG (5864) or tinkawhich@mvhealthsystem.org.