“The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.” – U.S. Preventative Taskforce
“People aged 55 to 74 years with a history of heavy smoking are 20 percent less likely to die from lung cancer if they are screened with a low dose lung scan.” –National Cancer Institute
Current or former long-time smokers can save their own life if they complete a lung scan annually.
Detecting early lung cancer helps the patient get the important care they need before having it progress to an untreatable state.
Getting the scan, which is now covered by commercial insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid for eligible candidates, is easy and possibly life-saving. Plus, for Medicare and most insurance plans, there are NO out of pocket costs.
In fact, the low-dose lung scans are so effective over the out-of-date chest x-rays that an NIH-funded national study including 53,000 patients ended early and concluded that it “reduced lung cancer mortality by 20 percent in this high-risk population.”
Physicians around the country are having discussions about the benefits of screenings.
They remind us that lung cancer is not always terminal and 90 percent of cases found are treatable.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendsexternal icon yearly lung cancer screening with LDCT for people who—
- Have a 20 pack-year or more smoking history, and
- Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
- Are between 50 and 80 years old.
A pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 20 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years.
Non-invasive and avoids use of an intravenous access
No usage of contrast dyes
Extremely low amounts of radiation
Breath only held for 5-10 seconds
Annual screening for effective prevention
The screening sometimes identifies nodules which are not dangerous, meaning that finding a nodule is not always an alarm for concern.
Only 1 out of 19 or 20 nodules found are dangerous.
The best thing to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. The second best is getting a lung scan completed each year if eligible.
If you’re a longtime smoker, a screening could end up saving your life.