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For years women have been able to get an annual breast cancer screening test. Thousands of lives have been saved due to early diagnosis and treatment. Imagine all the lives that can be saved with this new lung cancer screening test!
This is a big win for lung health. Lung Cancer takes many lives every year and the 5 year survivability is extremely low. My father-in law, Dewey, lost his 2.5 year battle with lung cancer on Nov 3, 2013. If only this test were available 6 years ago, he may still be with us.
As of one month ago, Medicare approved the National Coverage Determination (NCD) for Screening for Lung Cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT).
Who qualifies for this annual screening test that will save lives?
Medicare will now cover lung cancer screening with LDCT once per year for Medicare beneficiaries who meet all of the following criteria:
they are age 55-77, and are either current smokers or have quit smoking within the last 15 years;
they have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years); and
they receive a written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner that meets certain requirements.
If you think you qualify, talk with your doctor.
I do want to point out that this is a huge win for those at risk and living with COPD. Were you diagnosed and age 55 with COPD? Many people get the diagnosis after that age. A major benefit of an annual CT scan is that it may show no lung cancer, but it may detect COPD before the symptoms are intense to warrant a talk with your doctor. On average, people with COPD will lose 50% of lung function before the diagnosis. We can detect COPD with spirometry and LDCT way before that ever happens. Thereby we have a new unintentional tool to detect early COPD.
So, if you know someone at-risk, encourage them to talk with their doctor about getting a spirometry test and now an annual lung cancer screening test. It just may save a life – that is what the evidence suggests!
You can learn more about this new annual screening test here.
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It is not our intention to serve as a substitute for medical advice and any content posted should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. While we encourage individuals to share their personal experiences with COPD, please consult a physician before making changes to your own COPD management plan.