U.S. Panel Approves Annual Lung Cancer Screenings for Older Smokers

January 02, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force approved guidelines recommending low-dose CT scans annually for older smokers. This applies to people 55 to 79 who have at least a 30 pack-year history of smoking. A 30 pack-year is equivalent to one pack per day for 30 years, two packs per day for 15 years, etc.

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and about 85 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The risk of lung cancer increases with age. Researches have shown that annual screening with low-dose CT scan helps detect lung cancer earlier when - a chance of cure is higher.

“Now we have a screening test that can save lives,” said Scott J. Antonia, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Thoracic Oncology Department at Moffitt Cancer Center. “At Moffitt, our comprehensive lung screening program evaluates each CT screening and develops a personalized treatment plan as needed.”

The Lung Cancer Alliance designates Moffitt as a Screening Center of Excellence. Moffitt’s multidisciplinary lung cancer expert panel — which includes pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and nurses — lends its expertise to evaluate each screening.

For those who don’t meet the criteria but want to be screened, a prescription is required. Appointments can be made for an evaluation of individual risk and to discuss the pros and cons of screening.

The Task Force reviewed studies on CT lung screening, including the study of more than 50,000 people in the National Lung Screening Trial. Moffitt was one of the 33 study sites in the United States that participated in the study. Low-dose CT scans more accurately identify early stage cancer than other screening tests, the task force found. Many lung cancer deaths can be prevented by screening those at high risk. The approval by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force means that most insurance plans will begin to look at reimbursement for the cost of lung cancer screening.

Like every test, the screening test can give a false positive reading that suggests a person has lung cancer when no cancer is present. An exposure to radiation which may be carcinogenic is minimized using low-dose technology. The exposure is similar to that of a mammogram. The task force encourages those with questions to make an appointment with a health professional to discuss these pros and cons.

Moffitt offers low-dose CT lung cancer screenings for $150 for self-pay. Call 813-745-3980 or 1-888-860-2778 to schedule an appointment. For questions, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488) or visit www.MOFFITT.org/lungscreening.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. About 85 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. People who quit greatly reduce their risk of developing and dying from lung cancer. Moffitt offers smoking cessation and tobacco treatment programs.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the No. 1 cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” for cancer since 1999. With more than 4,200 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on the state of nearly $2 billion. For more information, visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.