Smokers and CT Screenings
As a follow up to our post in July of this year on the United States Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF or task force for shorter!) draft recommendation with regards to lung cancer and CT screening, the final report has been recently published with full recommendations just in time to start the new year.
While the recommendations for who should undergo what type of screening have not changed since the initially-released draft, putting the full voice of the USPSTF behind it does have an effect. Under new healthcare legislation, Task Force-backed cancer screenings will be covered without co-pays in the relatively near future. This means that those who need screening tests will have greater access to them.
So, who needs to be screened for lung cancer? The task force has specified who fits in the high-risk category for lung cancer.
Those who smoke at least a pack a day for 30 years (or its equivalent, such as 2 packs a day for 15 years), are between the ages of 55-80 or have stopped smoking less than 15 years ago fall into the high-risk, should be screened category.
Exemptions are made for those who have been smoke-free for 15 years or more or those who aren’t currently well enough to go through cancer treatment.
If you fall in a high-risk category, screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT can save lives by finding lung cancer when it is smaller and more treatable, offering hope for a disease which until now had a pretty dismal outlook. The CT scan is done in a matter of a few minutes, and differs from a routine CT in that lower than usual dose is used so that the study can be repeated annually as needed.
And because early detection saves lives, this new CT screening test holds the possibility of moving the approximately 10 million high risk individuals* on their way to better health.
*Yes there are that many who fall into the “high risk” category. Please give up the habit!
Image credit: Smoking woman Kelsey by Tiffany Dawn Nicholson via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Originally published 1/9/14 on diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com.