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Lung Cancer Screening Program Already Making a Positive Difference for Current and Former Smokers

160 screenings, four positive findings, four lung cancer patients whose prognosis is much better than it would have been had they waited until they experienced symptoms or until later-stage disease was detected. These are the results, so far, of our new low-dose CT lung cancer screening program at Larchmont Medical Imaging.

The results should make current or former heavy smokers stand up and take notice, because, for those at risk of developing lung cancer, the early detection capability of low-dose CT lung cancer screening provides new hope for successful treatment.

"The screenings have enabled us to find very small lung cancers in asymptomatic patients—when they are much more treatable and even curable," said body imaging specialist Michael Brodsky, M.D., of Larchmont Medical Imaging. "Research has demonstrated that screened patients have their risk of dying of lung cancer lowered by at least 20 percent."

Candidates for screening must (1) be healthy enough to undergo treatment if diagnosed with cancer and (2) meet the following National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) criteria:

  • Current smokers, age 55–74 (77 for Medicare recipients), with smoking history of 30 pack years or more
  • Former smokers, age 55–74 (77 for Medicare recipients), with 30 or more pack years of smoking history, who quit in the past 15 years
  • Age 50 or over with 20 or more pack years of smoking history, plus one additional risk factor

To determine pack years, multiply the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years smoked. For example, 30 pack years equals one pack per day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years.

Medicare Approval Marks an Important Milestone

It was announced on February 5, 2015, that CT lung cancer screenings are now covered for Medicare beneficiaries who meet the above criteria. Since many people who meet the screening criteria are age 65 or over, this will make the procedure much more accessible to many people who are at risk. Medicare coverage also allows for screenings of patients up to age 77 if they meet the other criteria above.

Many private insurance plans also cover lung cancer screenings for people at high risk. Others will cover a diagnostic CT lung scan as a follow-up to another exam that indicates possible cancer. Check with your insurer for details. For those with insurance plans that don't yet cover screenings, or for the uninsured, our self-pay fees are designed to make screenings accessible to those who need them.

Let's Work Together to Step Up the Fight Against Lung Cancer in Our Community!

"Lung cancer remains a challenging disease," Dr. Brodsky said. "But the research and our early success point to the ability to save more lives. We encourage current or former heavy smokers to have conversations with their physicians about their risk factors and the potential benefits of CT lung cancer screening."

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