A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Smokers: New lung cancer screening saves lives

Illustration - Person smoking with smoke for lungsIf you’ve smoked at least a pack of cigarettes per day, you probably know you’re at higher risk for lung cancer. You may not know a new type of lung cancer screening can now find this deadly disease while it’s still treatable.

Lung cancer, the second most common cancer in both men and women, accounts for about 27 percent of all cancer deaths.

Low-dose CT scan detects cancer early

This screening is based on a national trial involving about 26,000 patients, including 3,000 recruited locally by Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.

“This study clearly showed that screening eligible people with a low-dose CT (computed tomography) scan could detect cancer at its earliest stages, when it is most treatable and before any symptoms appear,” said Dr. Joel McCauley, a Marshfield Clinic pulmonary medicine specialist who helped set up the Clinic’s screening program. “We now believe we can reduce deaths due to cancer by 20 percent.”

That translates to saving the lives of about 50,000 high-risk people nationally. Based on these and other study results, this safe and accurate screening using a low dose of radiation is now recognized as a standard of care that must be covered by all insurers for patients who qualify.

Donate to Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.

Who qualifies for lung cancer screening?

To qualify, people must be age 55-80 with no lung cancer symptoms who smoked at least 30 pack-years. A pack-year means smoking at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, two packs for 15 years, or three packs for 10 years. These people have already been identified through Marshfield Clinic’s electronic medical records.

For more information about low-dose CT lung cancer screening, contact your doctor’s office.

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