Smokers to benefit from government decision
Even though the incidence of smoking in the United States has declined dramatically, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be close to 160,000 lung cancer deaths in 2013.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently released a draft recommendation for annual low-dose CT scans in current and former smokers to detect lung cancer, and conservatively estimates this may prevent 20,000 deaths yearly. So don’t call for a scanning appointment just yet. Should the task force provide a final recommendation, it may then become a covered benefit for those who meet certain criteria. This is not a final recommendation and most insurers do not cover the cost of this screening.
Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, is among the most preventable cancers. However, for heavy smokers or those with high-risk factors, access to early detection increases chances of early intervention and a successful treatment plan.
Dr. Mohammed Raheem, oncologist at Dreyer Medical Clinic in Aurora, Ill., says, “This is very exciting because data suggests many high-risk patients would benefit if we could detect their lung cancer early, and it will prevent the loss of many lives with only a small risk of radiation exposure associated with having a low-dose CT scan.” Dr. Raheem specializes in treatment of lung cancer at the Dreyer Cancer Center.
The task force defines a high-risk individual as someone between 55 and 79 years old who has smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years (or two packs per day for 15 years). This includes current smokers, as well as those who have quit in the last 15 years.
If you, or someone you love, want to quit smoking, talk to your doctor and find more information and resources from the American Cancer Society.
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