Mays Cancer Center partners with American Cancer Society to increase lung cancer screenings in South Texas


Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, is partnering with the American Cancer Society to spread awareness and encourage more at-risk South Texans to screen for lung cancer.

Early diagnosis in Texas ranks as one of the lowest in the country. Among all 50 states, including Washington, DC, the state of Texas is 48 out of 51 in lung cancer screenings.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. Occurring mainly in older adults, most people are diagnosed at age 65 or older. A small number of people under the age of 45 are diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite advancements in treating the disease, lung cancer kills more than 350 people each day in the United States.

The recommended screening test is a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan, or LDCT. During the scan, patients lie on a table and an X-ray machine uses a low amount of radiation to create detailed images of the lungs. The scan only takes a few minutes and is not painful.

“Our partnership with the American Cancer Society is a testament to our mission in making lives better,” said Ramon Cancino, MD, MBA, MS, FAACP, executive director of the UT Health Physicians Primary Care Center and co-chair of the Mays Cancer Center/UT Health San Antonio Joint Cancer Prevention and Screening committee. “We want to help high-risk patients get the lung cancer screening they need because early detection is the key to reducing lung cancer deaths. Timely screening gives patients a fighting chance to find and treat the disease early for more positive outcomes.”

This year, the American Cancer Society updated its guidelines and recommends adults ages 50 to 80, who have a history of heavy smoking (average one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, or two packs a day for 10 years), talk to their primary care physician about screenings.

At Mays Cancer Center, patients receive high-quality care and support from a specialized team of pulmonologists, pathologists, thoracic cancer surgeons, primary care physicians, medical oncologists, radiologists and radiation oncologists.

Recently, the American Cancer Society recognized UT Health San Antonio’s efforts in increasing the number of eligible patients for lung cancer screenings. This was a result of a year-long project by Cancino and a multidisciplinary team. The team included representatives from primary care, radiology, oncology, pathology, pulmonology, thoracic surgery, and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. Working with the American Cancer Society, they made improvements in identifying patients who were eligible for screenings. The recruitment of two physicians, Cynthia Cantu, DO, and Arlene Reyes, MD, also enhanced the program, by encouraging other providers across all seven UT Health San Antonio primary care practices to better identify eligible patients, discuss the importance of lung cancer screening, and order low-dose CT scans.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to highlight the risks, know the symptoms and underscore the importance of screenings. The signs and symptoms of lung cancer include a worsening cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, new onset of wheezing, coughing up blood, feeling tired or weak and weight loss.

To learn more about cancer programs at the Mays Cancer Center, visit or call 210-450-1000 to make an appointment.

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