Published on July 22, 2016

Early Diagnosis & Treatment of Lung Cancer at Pella Regional

PELLA, Iowa—Pella Regional Health Center has been designated a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology. Screening involves a computed tomography (CT) scan which can identify small nodules or other abnormalities in the lungs. Studies have shown that screening individuals at high risk with CT scans before symptoms appear can find lung cancer early when it is easier to treat and more likely to be cured.

Individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer who should be screened include:

  • Those who are between the ages of 55-80 who currently smoke or who quit within last 15 years.
  • Those who have a smoking history of 30 years or more (an average of one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.).

“This is a preventive screening measure, similar to a mammogram or a colonoscopy,” said Alison Smith, DO, Radiologist at Pella Regional Health Center. “If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung cancer may be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. A CT scan is the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer. Early detection is the key to surviving lung cancer, and research shows that current and former heavy smokers who have been screened with low-dose CT scans have reduced their risk of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent.”

“For patients who qualify, there will be an exam each year. In order for it to work, you have to come every year for as long as your doctor recommends, so that any cancer that may be small and slow growing will be found as early as possible. If an abnormality is found, Pella Regional has a system in place to help the patient navigate next steps in treatment,” added Smith.

For patients who meet the criteria there is no out-of-pocket expense for the lung cancer screening—no deductible, no co-pay and no co-insurance. While patients are exposed to low levels of radiation during the test the level is so small that it is about the same amount of radiation from six months in the natural environment.

“What elevates our program beyond others are the well-rounded staff and services that are offered here,” said Jeff Bender, director of Medical Imaging at Pella Regional. “This allows for a patient-centered approach to deliver the highest quality care through a coordinated plan.”

If an abnormality is found, patients will have follow up appointments with Gerard Matysik, DO, board-certified pulmonologist at Pella Regional to determine next steps in treatment. In the event there is a cancer diagnosis a board-certified team of oncologists, infusion nurses and primary care physicians are available at Pella Regional for the optimal care for patients with minimum travel.

For more information, go to, or contact Pella Regional’s Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator at or 641-621-2442. The coordinator will contact patients for additional information and to discuss details of the screening and possible eligibility. The Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator is a constant presence for the patient and family throughout the process in order to:

  • Expedite the initial shared decision making appointment to determine possible eligibility with Dr. Gerard Matysik, board-certified pulmonologist or the patient’s Pella Regional provider.
  • Coordinate the screening appointment with medical imaging.
  • Coordinate any follow up appointments needed in case of an abnormal result.

Pella Regional Health Center is the only designated Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology in the region. In order to receive the distinction of a Lung Cancer Screening Center, facilities must be accredited by the American College of Radiology in computed tomography in the chest module, as well as undergo a rigorous assessment of its lung cancer screening protocol and infrastructure.

 Not sure if you're eligible? Find out now:


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