By Annette Pinder
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that anyone between the ages of 55 and 80 years who who has a 30 pack-year smoking history, currently smokes, or has quit within the past 15 years be screened annually for lung cancer with low-dose CT (LDCT). Alarmingly, statistics show that less than two percent of those eligible are taking advantage of this life saving exam — which can detect the smallest tumors when lung cancer can be treated at its earliest stage.
“The very low rate of LDCT screening remains far too low given its potential to prevent thousands of lung cancer deaths each year,” says Dr. Raja Cheruvu, Director of Windsong’s LDCT screening program. Dr. Cheruvu notes that although low dose lung cancer screening was estimated to save 12,000 lives annually, a recent study indicates that only a fraction of people are taking advantage of being screened.
Who should get screened?
The USPSTF recommends testing for people with a history of heavy smoking, for those who smoke now or who quit within the past 15 years, and who are also between the ages of 55 and 80. Heavy smoking means a smoking history of 30 pack-years or more. A pack-year is the equivalent of smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 30 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
Primary care providers are beginning to use their electronic medical records to alert them as to which patients are appropriate candidates for LDCT. A Journal Cancer Education study published in March found that people ages 65 to 69 were nearly three times more likely to report a discussion about LDCT with their provider. The likelihood doubled for those with a history of cancer and tripled for those with chronic lung disease. However, younger patients ages 55-59 were less likely to be provided information about screening by their providers.
Dr. Cheruvu says, “Bolstering awareness of this exam will ultimately decrease the burden of lung cancer on our community, and more importantly, our loved ones and their families.” He encourages anyone who meets the criteria for this life saving screening, to talk to their doctor. “If lung cancer screening is right for you, your doctor can provide you with a script for a screening that can save your life.”
Windsong is a designated Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology (ACR), which recognizes facilities that have committed to practice safe, effective diagnostic care for individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the low dose lung cancer scan, you can be screened at any of Windsong’s four main locations. To learn more visit www.windsongwny.com or call 716-631-2500 to schedule your exam.