Lung cancer is no longer a medical condition that is diagnosed after it is too late for an effective treatment. A new endorsement from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has been included in the Affordable Care Act, requiring that insurers pay for low-dose CT scan without imposing cost-sharing requirements on individuals at high risk of developing lung cancer.
Who qualifies for this lung cancer screening program?
In order to qualify for annual lung cancer screenings, patients must meet one of the following criteria.
- Patients who are between the ages of 55 and 79; and
- Have a 30+ pack year history of cigarette smoking, and are still smoking or have quit smoking within the past 15 years. (A “pack year” is defined as smoking one pack of cigarettes every day for an entire year, e.g., smoking two packs per day for fifteen years would equal a 30 pack year history.); or
- Patients over the age of 50, with a 20 pack year history of cigarette smoking, who also have another risk factor — such as emphysema, or an occupation exposure to a substance that would increase their risk of developing lung cancer.
What is a low dose CT scan?
Computed tomography (CT) of the chest takes high-resolution pictures of the lungs, which allows physicians to detect any abnormal nodules on the lungs. Many of these spots are too small to see on a standard x-ray. Low dose means that this screening test uses approximately five times less than the regular dose of radiation for a typical CT scan.
What is involved with the lung cancer screening process?
The low dose CT scan is a non-invasive imaging technique that allows detailed images of your lungs, so that nodules or tumors can be detected. The goal of this screening process is to attempt to detect lung cancer at an early stage. This may give patients a better chance of survival.
In addition, the professionals at North Broward Radiologists offer cutting-edge CT scanning technology, enabling them to provide the highest level of lung cancer screening with very low radiation exposure.
Why participate in the screening process?
If you are a smoker or former smoker, you are at risk for developing lung cancer. Lung cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer; this is largely because lung cancer is often not found until it has spread to other parts of the body. A CT screening of the lungs can help identify lung cancer at an early stage, when it can be cured.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, with a five-year survival rate of only fifteen percent. Of course, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and extremely difficult to quit. Therefore, for individuals unable to quit smoking cigarettes, this screening process may identify a lung nodule or tumor that requires further investigation. This is why the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends this early detection procedure for long-time smokers.
What is the benefit of low dose CT scanning?
One major benefit of low dose CT includes identifying lung cancer early in the process, therefore saving lives.
According to a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, screening for lung cancer with low-radiation dose CT scanning can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by an additional 20 percent, when compared to lung cancer screening with a conventional chest x-ray.
How much radiation is emitted from low dose CT scanning?
Radiation emitted from a CT scan is measured by a unit called “millisievert” (mSv). Normal background radiation from natural sources like the cosmic radiation exposes a person to approximately 3 mSv per year. By comparison, a standard CT scan of the chest exposes a patient to approximately 7-8 mSv. North Broward Radiologists’ low dose protocol exposes a patient to 1.5 mSv of radiation.
Why choose North Broward Radiologists for my lung cancer screening?
The lung cancer-screening program offered by North Broward Radiologists follows the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) model, and adheres to the strict protocols set by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) guidelines. The results of the NLST have proven the benefit of lung cancer screening in decreasing mortality for those at high risk for lung cancer.
North Broward Radiologists is a highly experienced, American Board of Radiology-certified group of physicians providing professional diagnostic imaging services based in Broward County Florida.
Most of NBR’s radiologists have also completed fellowship training in various subspecialties of radiology, including neuroradiology, pediatric imaging, P.E.T. imaging, ultrasound and interventional radiology. Many have also been appointed as academic staff of major institutions.
With 30-years of chest imaging experience and state of the art, low-dose CT scanners, North Broward Radiologists is uniquely positioned to offer low dose lung cancer CT screening under the new health care law. For those without health insurance, North Broward Radiologists, through Broward Health, offers low-dose lung CT screenings for $99. Click here for more information on how to schedule an appointment.