Lung Cancer Screening Program Expands to Offer Early Detection for High-Risk Construction Workers

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance partnership brings successful lung cancer early detection program to Department of Energy workers in Western Washington.

SEATTLE — May 8, 2014 — Today, the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program (BTMed) and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) expanded their early lung cancer detection program (ELCD) for high risk construction workers in Western Washington. The BTMed program provides CT scans to help screen for early stage lung cancer in people who may have been exposed to hazardous substances while working at the nation's nuclear defense sites. The existing program, which has served at-risk workers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Eastern Washington, has already made a meaningful impact through the early detection and timely treatment of several individuals.

About 160,000 people in the United States die of lung cancer each year. Construction workers employed at the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) sites have a higher risk of lung cancer because of exposure to asbestos, silica, and other agents. The BTMed ELCD program, funded by the DOE, has been largely successful in Eastern Washington since its launch last summer. Workers at Hanford, a decommissioned nuclear production complex located near the Columbia River, are one of the highest-risk populations for lung cancer. The early lung cancer detection program has provided CT scans for more than 180 workers in Washington. So far, two patients have been diagnosed with stage I lung cancer, undergone surgery at University of Washington, and are now cancer free.

“The success of the program in Eastern Washington has served as a model for expanding to other regions and states,” said Dr. David Madtes, Director of the Lung Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Clinic at SCCA. “In partnership with BTMed, SCCA is providing state-of-the-art lung cancer early detection and ensuring the best medical treatment in the Northwest is available to those who need it the most.”

The screening is provided free of charge to former workers and participation is entirely voluntary. Former Hanford workers may be eligible for lung cancer screening if they performed construction work at any time at an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or DOE site associated with the research or production of nuclear weapons.

“Without early screening and detection steps in place, lung cancer can often go undetected until it is at a later, more lethal stage,” said Laura Welch, Medical Director, CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training. “When coupled with intense patient management and advanced surgical procedures, survival can be increased from 15 to 80 percent when we are able to detect lung cancer in the early stages.”

SCCA is a strong supporter of lung cancer screening for people at high-risk for developing lung cancer. Dr. Douglas E. Wood, UW professor, and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UW Medicine, serves as the chair for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network in their efforts to develop and approve guidelines to provide our nation’s vulnerable populations with early lung cancer detection and advanced treatments.

“The Building Trades National Medical Screening Program has been a huge step forward in providing our high-risk Washingtonians with the health information they need to receive early medical care,” said Dr. Wood. “SCCA values our partnership and will continue to advocate for lung screening access and availability.”

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) in Washington, D.C. leads the BTMed program. The consortium includes the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center and Zenith American Solutions, Inc. of Seattle. The Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO sponsors the program and it is endorsed by various state and local Building and Construction Trades Councils. For more information on the program, or to see if you are eligible for lung cancer screening, visit

Media Contact:
Fred Hutch Media Team