Guidelines Don’t Cover Everyone Who Would Benefit From Lung Cancer Screening: Study
Posted: Jul 21, 2016
Lung cancer is considered the second most common form of cancer in men and women alike. The disease affects an estimated 224,000 Americans each year with about 158,000 deaths attributed to the cause. While researchers have found that early CT scan screenings for those at the highest risk for the disease can improve outcomes, some researchers say the guidelines for screening don’t go far enough.
At present, the guidelines for the National Lung Screening Trial are quite limited in those who can receive CT scan screening with Medicare reimbursement. The guidelines specify scans for those who are between the age of 55 and 74 who have at least a 30-year track record of smoking at least a pack a day. The use of the CT scans to detect early lesions has improved outcomes for some patients.
While NLST guidelines do encompass a large population of those at high risk, a new study has found there are gaps left uncovered. People, who for example, may have only smoked for 20 years instead of 30 are still at extremely high risk. Researchers, in fact, found the same rate of cancers among those who don’t quite meet the screening guidelines and those who do.
To arrive at the relative equal finding, researchers recently screened more than 1,700 patients for lung cancer using a standard CT. Of those patients, 1,200 qualified under the NLST guidelines. About 500 patients were considered high risk, but didn’t qualify for the NLST requirements. Researchers found overall that the rate of cancer was the same between the two groups.
The findings of the study indicate the need for more expansive screening of smokers and former smokers for lung cancer. The NLST guidelines were set in place for a specific study-based reason and were never meant to be used as a basis to describe all those at the highest risk. Some organizations have altered their screening guidelines in recent history to be more inclusive, but not all.
CT scan screening is considered a valuable tool for detecting lung cancer in its earliest phases. Although this form of the disease has a high morbidity rate, early detection and treatment can improve outcomes dramatically.
People who have smoked or do smoke are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Kicking the habit can reduce lung cancer risks greatly. For those who find themselves at high risk for the disease, screening tools such as a CT scan can lead to early detection and potentially lifesaving interventions.
North Texas Cancer Center at Wise, a division of Choice Cancer Care, is now operating as the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and is one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in Texas.
North Texas Cancer Center at Wise, a division of Choice Cancer Care, is now operating as the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and is one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in Texas