New Screening Test for Lung Cancer Available at Lacks Cancer Center
Low-dose CT Scan Could Save 20,000 Lives Annually if Used Across the Country
Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center now offers low-dose Lung CT scans to those considered to be at risk for lung cancer for a cost-effective price of $99. As this screening is currently not covered by most insurance plans; the lower cost will hopefully fill this gap in health insurance coverage and provide lung cancer screening to those considered high-risk.
The low-dose Lung CT scan is advantageous in that it can detect lesions smaller than one centimeter, when the chances for a cure are greatest.
If every hospital in the country offered this test, 15,000-20,000 lives could potentially be saved each year.
“Many tobacco users are waiting for a symptom to compel them to quit smoking,” said Laura VanHeest, a respiratory therapist who also oversees Tobacco Free Partners of West Michigan. “This test empowers them to take action before critical changes have taken over their health. Increasing awareness of the unseen risk also supports their decision to begin the journey to become tobacco free.”
A national screening trial of 53,000 participants who were current or former smokers compared lung cancer screening by low-dose CT scans or chest X-rays. Over the course of the trial, 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths were found among those who had low-dose CT scans compared to those with chest X-rays.
The screening is not recommended for everyone. Candidates for low-dose Lung CT screening are those who:
- Are age 55 to 74
- Have a smoking history of at least 30-pack years (described by the ACS as one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), and is the leading cause of cancer death, as it kills 160,000 people each year in the U.S. One contributor to the high death rate is that often the disease was not diagnosed until it was in an advanced stage because there was no good way to detect early lung cancer—until now, with the low-dose CT scan.
Patients need a physician referral for this screening, or they can call 616-685-5203 for more information.