Government May Approve CT Scans to Assist High Risk Smokers

Government May Approve CT Scans to Assist High Risk Smokers

Technology for Early Detection of Lung Cancer Offered at Medical Center of Central Georgia 

MACON, GA (Monday, August 12, 2013) - The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently recommended a screening for lung cancer that could aid in the early detection of the disease for heavy smokers. The government recommendation may pave the way for insurers to finance annual CT scans for those ages 55 to 79 who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years.

“A CT scan is a type of X-ray that allows a clinician to see into the person’s lungs. Having an annual CT scan could lead to the early detection of lung cancer for both current and former high risk smokers. Being diagnosed with lung cancer at an earlier stage does make it more likely that surgery, the best treatment for most types of lung cancer, will be successful,” said Nancy White, RN, Director of Oncology Services at The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG).

The number one cancer killer in the U.S., almost 90 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer will die of the disease because it is usually found too late for treatment to be effective. Approximately 85 percent of lung cancer in the U.S is attributed to smoking. A 2010 study by the National Cancer Institute found that CT scans may cut the risk of death from lung cancer by as much as 20 percent.

“The Medical Center of Central Georgia began offering this screening for heavy smokers in November 2011. The screening currently costs $150 and is not covered by insurance, but we are hopeful that the screening will soon be covered under the Affordable Care Act, allowing more high risk smokers the opportunity for early diagnosis,” said White.

Currently, CT scans may cost up to $1,000, or more, and may not be covered by Medicare or private insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, screenings recommended by the task force are to be covered, and with no co-pay. MCCG’s Cancer Life Center offers CT scans for current and former smokers through a partnership with Central Georgia Diagnostics, 1650 Hardeman Ave. in Macon.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force did not recommend annual CT scans for younger smokers, lighter smokers, those who quit more than 15 years ago or those who would be too frail to undergo cancer treatments. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is a government appointed group of independent physicians.

For questions or to set up an appointment for a CT scan, please contact Central Georgia Diagnostics at (478) 633-9111. For information on lung cancer treatment, pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation, please contact MCCG’s  Cancer Life Center at (478) 633-2614.


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