LOW DOSE CT – A PROVEN LIFE-SAVING SCAN FOR LONGTIME SMOKERS”
If you smoke tobacco, you should know that lung cancer is the most deadly form of cancer among American men and women, and approximately 85% of its victims are current and former heavy smokers.
The good news – Low Dose Computed Tomography, or LDCT is a painless test that can dramatically reduce your chance of dying from lung cancer. A three-year randomized clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute tracked more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers aged 55 – 74, and the results showed that LDCT had superior discovery of tiny nodules in the lung while they were still localized and able to be treated, compared to standard x-ray. In fact, LDCT testing was 20% more effective, saving roughly one in five lung cancer patients who participated in the study.
A heavy smoker is someone who has reached 30 “pack years,” a figure calculated by multiplying the number of packs smoked per day by the number of years spent smoking. For example, if you have smoked one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, you have reached the 30-pack-year marker. Former heavy smokers are still considered at high risk until they have been smoke-free for 15 years or more. Because the lungs heal quickly once a person stops smoking, quitting is still the best preventive measure. People who have quit smoking within 15 years may have slowed the growth of cancer so dramatically that the nodules have remained miniscule. Therefore, LDCT may be the only test capable of locating them before they spread. LDCT is a non-invasive diagnostic scan that creates a nearly 3-D view of the chest and lungs. Additionally, RAI’s sophisticated dose reduction techniques ensure up to 90% less ionizing radiation than conventional CT. Radiology Associates Imaging offers the most advanced LDCT available, able to detect the tiniest cancers other diagnostic scans can miss.
Once symptoms of lung cancer appear (wheezing, a dry or bloody cough or unexplained weight loss), the cancer has typically spread outside the lung, where it is usually impossible to treat, making early discovery crucial to surviving lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and others now recommend that high-risk patients consider annual LDCT screening. People ages 55-77 with a 30-pack-year history and a qualified medical professional’s written order for LDCT are eligible to have their scans covered by Medicare.