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To Your Health

To Your Health

Preventive health exams and screenings are important components of overall health and wellness. When performed at regular intervals, exams and screenings can determine health problems or the possible presence of a disease. Screenings and exams can be conducted routinely as preventive measures or when a specific health issue occurs.

Early detection of the risk factors for certain health problems can lead to easier treatment and better outcomes. Which screenings or exams you need depends on your age, your sex, your family history and whether you have risk factors for certain diseases. After a screening test, ask when you will get the results and whom to talk to about them.

Lung Screening

A middle-aged man with his dog on a farm As part of Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s commitment to your health, we are pleased to offer a comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening and Pulmonary Care Program. This program is committed to providing effective screening, timely multidisciplinary assessment and treatment planning, and coordinated care.

Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a significant health problem in the United States. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women. Early detection of lung cancer is the key to significantly reducing mortality rates.

Your risk for lung cancer is unique to you. Here are some factors that might put you at risk for lung cancer:
  • A history of smoking
  • Exposure to radon or asbestos
  • A history of lung cancer in your immediate family
  • Exposure to Agent Orange or other cancer-causing materials
  • A diagnosis of other respiratory disease such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema, chronic bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Contact with secondhand smoke
How do I know if I should get screened?
Regular lung cancer screenings are recommended for individuals ages 55-74 with a significant smoking history or heavy exposure to certain substances (including asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, radon, silica and uranium). If you have smoked a pack a day (or more) for 30 years and either continue to smoke or have quit in the past 15 years, you would benefit from screening.

Low-dose CT scans are the only proven method for lung cancer screening for early detection of lung cancer and prevention of lung cancer deaths.

How effective is a lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan?
A study was recently conducted by the National Cancer Institute. The initial results of this eight-year National Lung Screening Trial proved that low-dose CT scans can help save the lives of people at high risk for lung cancer.
  • The trial included more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55-74.
  • It compared the effects of low-dose helical CT scans and standard chest x-rays.
  • The trial found 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths among participants screened with low-dose CT.
Low-dose CT-based lung cancer screening can be a key component in the early detection process. And with early detection, 85 percent of cancers can be found in the earliest, most curable stages.

How does the lung screening process work? What are my next steps?
The Kalispell Regional Healthcare pulmonary team of physicians, radiologists and nurses are committed and equipped to partner with you every step of the way – from consultation to imaging to treatment (if necessary). We personalize your care based on your specific situation and a shared decision making process.
  • First, have your risk evaluated.
  • If a low-dose CT scan is appropriate, the pulmonologist or your primary care physician will order the test.
  • The scan generally takes about 30 minutes.
  • Your scan will be read by a radiologist. Positive findings will be reviewed by the multispecialty pulmonary team and an appointment will be scheduled at the clinic for you to review the findings with a pulmonologist.
  • A nurse navigator will coordinate any follow-up appointments.
If you are interested in a lung cancer screening, contact our lung screening hotline at (406) 212-1739. Our staff will review your risk with you and determine if a low-dose CT scan is appropriate for you.

What will happen during my screening visit?
Here’s what you can expect:
  • You will meet with the clinic registered nurse or pulmonologist and receive a thorough risk assessment evaluation.
  • Your options will be discussed with you.
  • You will receive information on smoking cessation.
  • If you decide to be screened, the low-dose CT will be scheduled for you.
What will happen if something is found?
If something found needs further evaluation, the pulmonologist will review your imaging with the multidisciplinary team to determine next steps. This will be presented to you to assist you with making your decision on your care plan. The care plan would then be managed by the pulmonologist to ensure you receive timely, coordinated care.

Will my insurance cover this screening? What will it cost?
Screening is now covered by most insurance plans and Medicare. It is always a good idea to check with your carrier regarding your specific coverage. In those cases where the screening is not covered, you can rest easy knowing that Kalispell Regional Healthcare is committed to keeping costs down and making the process affordable.

Lung Cancer Screening Program
Kalispell Regional Medical Center - Imaging Services
(406) 751-9729

Colorectal Screening

Couple stretching together The Facts
FACT: Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States.
FACT: Men and women of all races and ethnic groups are at risk for colon cancer.
FACT: More than half of colon cancer cases and deaths can be prevented with regular colon cancer testing.
FACT: The risk of getting colon cancer increases with age; i.e., the older you get, the higher your chance of getting colon cancer.
FACT: Colon cancer often has no symptoms.
FACT: Most people who get colon cancer have no history of cancer.
FACT: Regular testing for colon cancer is as important as testing for breast cancer.

Detection Is Your Best Protection
If you’re 50 years old or over, getting tested for colorectal cancer could save your life. Here’s how:
  • Colorectal cancer usually starts from a growth in the colon or rectum that shouldn’t be there. This growth is called a polyp.
  • Over time, polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests like colonoscopies can find polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Other screening tests, like tests for blood in your stool, can find colorectal cancer early, when the chance of being cured is the highest.
  • Some people with colon cancer have no symptoms at all. That is why regular testing, even if you feel fine, is so important.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
  • I’m over 50; how soon can I get tested for colon cancer?
  • I’ve read that there is more than one type of test for colon cancer. Which one do you think is right for me?
  • How is the test done? How do I prepare for it?
For more information on colorectal screening, call the Digestive Health Institute of Montana at (406) 752-7441.

Getting tested is the most important step you can take to help prevent colon cancer. Please call your health care professional to schedule your colon cancer test today.

Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention

Protect Yourself from the Sun
Sunlight is the main source of ultraviolet (UV) rays, but it also comes from tanning beds and welding torches. People who receive a lot of UV exposure are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer in their lifetime. Areas with higher elevation have a thinner atmosphere and filter less UV radiation. The Flathead Valley is at an average of 3,000 feet above sea level, which puts us at a higher risk. Knowing how to protect your skin while out in the sun is important for your health and for preventing skin cancer.

Seek Shade
The best way to limit your exposure to UV rays is to avoid being in direct sunlight too long, especially during the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV light is the strongest. Seek shade during these hours when possible.

Cover Up
When out in the sun, wear clothing to cover the most skin possible, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts. Dark-colored clothing typically provides more protection than light colors, but be aware that covering up does not block all UV rays.

Use Sunscreen
Sunscreen helps prevent the sun’s UV rays from reaching the skin, but it does not block all rays. Please note that sunscreen should not be used as a way to prolong your time in the sun. It is important to use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and labeled as broad spectrum. About 1 ounce (one shot glass) of sunscreen should cover the arms, legs, neck and face of the average adult. Be sure to reapply every two hours or sooner if you sweat or are in water.

Wear a Hat and Sunglasses
A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around can protect the ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp, which are often exposed to intense sunlight. Sunglasses that are UV-blocking are important for protecting your eyes and the delicate skin around them. Check the label of your sunglasses for UV absorption before purchase and wear.

Check the Local UV Index
If you plan to be outdoors, you will want to check the UV Index for your area. The UV index can be found in the local newspaper, TV, radio and online weather forecasts. It measures the strength of UV light on a scale from 1 to 11+. A higher number means greater risk of UV exposure.

Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world, although with early detection most skin cancers can be treated. Experts recommend that you check your skin once a month. If you notice any changes in moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks, be sure to contact your doctor for a skin check.

Additional Resources

Breast Cancer Awareness

Three generations of women Early Detection
Even if you feel healthy now, just being a woman and getting older puts you at risk of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer early may save your life.

Know What Normal Is for You
The signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women.

It is important to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue often has a bumpy texture that varies from one woman to another. For some, the lumpiness is more obvious than for others. In most cases this is not a cause for worry. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, it is likely just normal breast tissue.

Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast tissue (or the tissue of the other breast) or that feel like a change are a concern. If you feel or see any change in your breasts or underarms, see a doctor.

Signs You Should Not Ignore
Be aware of any change in your breast or underarm area. If you notice any of these signs, see a doctor.
  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that does not go away
You can get information about mammograms and clinical breast exams by contacting the organizations listed below.

Susan G. Komen

American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute’s Cancer
Information Service