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If You Smoke, a Lung Scan May Save Your Life
Posted By Candy Sagon On December 31, 2013 @ 11:45 am In Bulletin Today,Personal Health | Comments Disabled
If you are age 55 to 80 and either a current or former heavy smoker , getting an annual lung CT scan could cut your risk of death from the nation’s leading cancer killer, according to final guidelines issued this week by a federally appointed panel of experts.
Lung cancer kills 160,000 Americans a year, more than the total number of deaths from breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Catching the cancer early by detecting it on a CT scan could save as many as 20,000 lives annually, task force vice chairman Michael LeFevre, M.D., a University of Missouri family physician, told the Associated Press .
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which proposed the guidelines back in July , published the final version in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This clears the way for insurers and Medicare to begin paying for the scans a year from now. The scans cost between $300 and $500, according to the American Lung Association.
Not every smoker qualifies for screening. The guidelines specify only those at highest risk: Heavy smokers who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15, or former heavy smokers who have quit within the past 15 years.
Why only older heavy smokers? Because medical evidence shows that screening this high-risk group can save lives by detecting the cancer early, outweighing the potential harms of over-diagnosis, Reuters reported .
Under the Obama administration’s health care law, the screenings are supposed to be covered with no co-pays, although insurance plans have a year to adopt the new recommendations.
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URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/iStock_000019676121Medium.jpg
 heavy smoker: http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-11-2011/medicare-offers-help-for-smokers-98.html?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG
 Associated Press: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MED_LUNG_CANCER_SCREENING?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-12-31-03-00-11
 proposed the guidelines back in July: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/07/30/older-smokers-need-yearly-lung-cancer-screening/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL
 >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter: http://www.aarp.org/online-community/people/subscribeFromEmail.action?id=19061&intcmp=ILC-EMAIL-SUB-HLTH
 medical evidence : http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-06-2011/ct-scans-lower-lung-cancer-deaths.html?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG
 Reuters reported: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/31/us-cancer-lung-idUSBRE9BT0Q020131231
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