Incidental Lung Nodule Program at Saint Barnabas Medical Center

Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. Catching it early dramatically improves the chances of survival and even cure.

Since 2012, Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) has been catching lung cancer early in people who are at high risk by offering free screenings and testing. Now SBMC has introduced the Incidental Lung Nodule Program, which can catch lung cancer early even in patients who aren’t known to be at risk.

The Incidental Lung Nodule Program is set up to alert our team if a lung nodule —a small, abnormal lesion or spot—has been detected incidentally, during a scan ordered by a cardiologist or other specialist looking for something else.

How It Works

  • If a lung nodule is picked up during a CT scan at Saint Barnabas Medical Center or the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, a software system will alert the lung nodule team.
  • A letter will be sent to both the ordering provider and the patient, offering an opportunity to follow up at the Lung Nodule Clinic.
  • The patient will receive a follow-up phone call from the team.

Follow Up

If a patient chooses to follow up at the Lung Nodule Clinic, our providers will consider the patient’s medical history and whether the nodule has any characteristics of a malignancy. In conjunction with evidence-based guidelines, the team may recommend continued surveillance or more tests if required. All recommendations are reported to the patient’s primary healthcare provider and the patient.

On further workup, if the patient is ultimately diagnosed with lung cancer, he or she may be referred to a thoracic surgeon, who may treat the patient by removing and resecting the cancer with minimally invasive robotic or video-assisted surgery.

For High-Risk Patients

The Incidental Lung Nodule Program complements SBMC’s participation in the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program, which includes a low-dose CT screening for individuals who are at high risk of developing lung cancer.