Lung Cancer Screening’s Lifesaving Double Impact

Ella KazerooniThis post was contributed by Ella Kazerooni, MD, FACR, executive sponsor of the Lung Cancer Screening 2.0 Committee, chair of the American college of Radiology Lung Cancer Screening Resources Committee and chair of the ACR Lung-RADS® committee.

Evidence to support annual lung cancer screening  with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in high-risk patients received a double boost recently.

The Nelson Study , presented at the recent IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer, showed that LDCT screening reduced lung cancer deaths by 26 percent in men and up to 61 percent in women (a 44 percent reduction overall if male and female cohort were evenly split).

And just this week, a paper in Annals of Internal Medicine predicted that lung cancer deaths would continue to drop in coming decades — in part due to LDCT. The authors stated that LDCT could not only reduce lung cancer deaths via early detection but also boost smoking cessation rates.

So, not only would LDCT cut older current and former smokers’ risk of dying from lung cancer nearly in half, but it also leads more people to stop smoking — which could save more lives.

Lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Once implemented nationwide, this cost-efficient test would be the most effective cancer screening exam in history.

Yet, LDCT remains underutilized due to referring providers being uninformed or unaware of the benefits, and due to under coverage by Medicare. Let your referring providers know that they should consider these lifesaving exams for their high-risk patients.

  • The ACR Lung Cancer Screening resources page offers a number of materials to help us spread the word and learn how to start and maintain safe and effective lung cancer screening programs in our practices or hospitals.
  • I would also invite you to check out the American Lung Association® Saved by the Scan campaign. This may be a useful resource to link from your practice website.
  • RadiologyInfo.org is another tremendous resource for patients. The lung cancer screening section explains to patients what lung cancer screening exams are, how to prepare for them, benefits and risks, and more.
  • The National Lung Cancer Roundtable (NLCRT), a national coalition of public, private and voluntary organizations and invited individuals, dedicated to reducing the incidence of and mortality from lung cancer in the United States, offers a variety of resources as well.  

We have tools available to educate our referring providers and patients about lung cancer screening and how it can help many high-risk patients. I invite you to use them.

  • Does your practice or hospital offer lung cancer screening?
  • What have you found works well in informing patient and providers about lung cancer screening?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

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