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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended annual low-dose CT screening for adults between the age of 55 and 80 who are at high risk for lung cancer because they are current heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years.

However, the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services and most private insurance plans do not cover the cost of low-dose CT screening for lung cancer. As a result, many people who could benefit from the service do not receive it because they cannot afford the cost.

King’s Daughters Medical Center is now offering this potentially life-saving exam to eligible individuals at for just $80.

“CT scans can be quite expensive,” said Mary Adams, RN, oncology nurse navigator. “For many, the cost of the exam is a major obstacle. By making this screening exam affordable and accessible, we hope to save lives that might otherwise be lost,” Adams said.

To be eligible for the low-dose CT screening program, participants must:

  • Be between the ages of 50 and 80
  • Be asymptomatic (not currently diagnosed/being treated for lung cancer or lung nodules)
  • Have a smoking history of 20 to 30 pack years. One pack year is equal to smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for a year.
  • Or be a former smoker who meets the pack-year criteria and quit no more than 15 years ago.
  • Be in relatively good health and willing/able to undergo treatment for cancer should an issue be found.
“As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with low-dose CT scans,” Adams said. These include:

  • False negative/false positive results. The screening may incorrectly provide a false negative result or a false positive. According to one national study, the rate of false negatives for low-dose CT screening programs ranges from 0 to 20 percent. A false positive result could lead to additional testing that may ultimately prove unnecessary.
  • Incidental findings. Low-dose CT scanning can pick up other disease processes, such as emphysema, coronary artery calcification, bronchiectasis, pulmonary fibrosis, carcinoid tumors and hamartomas.
  • Overdiagnosis. About 25 percent of lung cancer cases discovered in a recent low dose CT screening study were determined to be slow-growing or indolent (not likely to cause harm).
  • Radiation exposure. Low-dose CT scanning exposes the body to radiation. The lungs are especially susceptible to the effects of this radiation and additional cases of lung cancer may be caused by it. Because of this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend low-dose CT screening for individuals who do not meet screening criteria.
The screening program is offered from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month. Appointments are required. To find out more and determine eligibility for the program, please call 1-888-377-KDMC (5362).

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Comments

Angie
# Angie
Thursday, February 13, 2014 7:37 PM
This sounds like a wonderful program. Especially with the rising costs of health care. It's hard enough to come up with the extra money to go to the doctor and keep up with maintenance medications. Many people fail to get testing ordered by their doctor due to cost. This makes at least one life saving test affordable for most people. I do however think the age requirement should be lowered to forty. Most people in Eastern Kentucky who smoke begin doing so at a very young age or have lived with a smoker for the better part of their life.
Erin.Bounds
# Erin.Bounds
Friday, February 14, 2014 8:12 AM
Angie: The US Preventive Task Force recommendation is to begin at age 55; we are actually offering this to people beginning at age 50. The scan does involve radiation exposure and there are risks inherent in that.

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