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CT Lung Cancer Screening Approved

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society [1]. It is estimated that in 2013, 228,190 new cases will be diagnosed and 159,480 will die (87,260 men and 72,220 women).

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [2](USPSTF) recently approved annual low-dose CT lung cancer screenings for adults ages 55 through 880 who have a 30 pack-year history of smoking or who have quit smoking in the past 15 years.

“CT screening for lung cancer has been a long time in waiting,” said Mark Dylewski, M.D., medical director of general thoracic and robotic surgery at Baptist Health South Florida. “Evidence has shown that the majority of lung cancer patients who are cured of their disease are those patients found to have incidental early-stage lung tumors. For decades we have known who is at risk for developing lung cancer. It makes perfect sense that we screen those patients at risk.”

The USPSTF showed that current or former smokers who were screened annually by low-dose CT have a 20 percent lower risk of dying from lung cancer than with conventional chest X-rays.  The findings are important because it appears that yearly screening with low-dose CT imaging can save the lives of seeming healthy people who have a history of heavy smoking.

As a radiologist, I know that most of the lung cancers we usually see are advanced and the outcomes are very poor,” said Larry Elgarresta, M.D., medical director of imaging at Baptist Outpatient Services. “This is a perfect example of screening a high-risk patient population with CT scans to effectively find lung cancer at its earliest stages, when it is potentially curable.”

If you are a smoker or a former smoker, the news is really good for you. The approval of low-dose CT means that under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover any screening service without any co-pay or deductible.

For years Baptist Health has been providing this type of screening for Miami-Dade firefighters, who are at higher risk for lung cancer than the general population. Currently Baptist offers CT lung cancer screening at our diagnostic centers at a low cost; however, you must have a prescription from your physician.

Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. If you currently smoke or if you quit smoking within the past 15 years, get a screening. You could save your life and the lives of your family.

For more information, call 786-573-6000 in Miami-Dade or 954-837-1000 in Broward, or visit Baptisthealth.net [3] .