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Five Things to Tell Your Friends Who Smoke

Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that by the end of this year more than 200,000 people will be told they have lung cancer, and about 150,000 will die from lung cancer. Approximately 85% of lung cancer cases in the United States are the result of smoking, and a high percentage occurs among former smokers because the risk continues even after smoking stops.

Beyond encouraging their loved ones to stop smoking, family members and friends have the opportunity to share an important message with the smokers in their lives. A low dose CT scan of the lungs – a “Lung Scan” – can find cancer much earlier than ever before possible. A Lung Scan can find cancer while it’s much easier to treat.

A Lung Scan is more effective at detecting cancer than a chest x-ray. A Lung Scan is also fast and painless. By using a CT machine, low dose x-rays generate a cross-sectional image that allows doctors to see minute details inside the lungs.

A Lung Scan can prevent as much as 20% of future deaths from lung cancer, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.  Because of its strong prevention value, the Lung Scan ranks alongside mammography, colonoscopy, and other established cancer screening tests as a way to detect and treat cancer early.  According to Dr. Jakob Schutz, the Director of Body CT at Mary Washington Hospital, “Low dose screening chest CT (Lung Scan) is the best method currently available to detect lung cancer at an early stage.”

If you have loved ones or friends who are over 50, and currently smoke or quit smoking in the last 15 years, here is what you need to know:

  1. A Lung Scan can reduce the chance of dying from lung cancer.
  2. If someone is developing the disease, early detection gives that person a much better chance for survival.
  3. The Lung Scan takes just a few minutes, has no needles, and is painless.
  4. This is a screening test to get before symptoms appear. Someone should get one because he or she has a significant smoking history and may be at high risk for lung cancer.  
  5. The most obvious benefit to lung cancer screening is that lung cancer that is caught early is more likely to be treatable and potentially cured.
  6. If someone meets eligibility criteria, the Lung Scan is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies at NO COST to the patient.  The Lung Scan is also available out-of-pocket at reasonable cost.

The “Before You Have Symptoms” Screening

Since many people don’t like to discuss the health challenges associated with their smoking, often the encouragement of friends and family is what prompts smokers to get a scan. Physicians play a critical role here too and have to be involved in planning for a Lung Scan. While putting a price on peace of mind is hard, for smokers and their families, that cost has gotten much lower now that Medicare and most insurance covers the cost of a low dose Lung Scan.

Because of its commitment to quality, Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg (MIF) has been identified as a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology and a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. The Lung Cancer Screening Program is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort with thoracic surgery and pulmonology.  MIF is the home of our region’s expertise in providing and reading the Lung Scan and offers the lowest costs for imaging in the region. You can learn more by visiting the website at, chat live online or call (540) 741-XRAY (9729).


**Reprinted from the Freelance Star

Health scan guide for MIF