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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 Health Talk | Comments Disabled

man smoking [1]If you are age 55 to 80 and either a current or former heavy smoker [2], 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 [3].

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which proposed the guidelines back in July [4], 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.

>> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter [5]

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 [6]shows that screening this high-risk group can save lives by detecting the cancer early, outweighing the potential harms of over-diagnosis, Reuters reported [7].

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.

>> Get discounts on health products and services with your AARP Member Advantages. [8]

 

Photo: Syldavia/iStock

 

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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/12/31/if-you-smoke-a-lung-scan-may-save-your-life/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/iStock_000019676121Medium.jpg

[2] heavy smoker: http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-11-2011/medicare-offers-help-for-smokers-98.html?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[3] 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

[4] proposed the guidelines back in July: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/07/30/older-smokers-need-yearly-lung-cancer-screening/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[5] >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter: http://www.aarp.org/online-community/people/subscribeFromEmail.action?id=19061&intcmp=ILC-EMAIL-SUB-HLTH

[6] medical evidence : http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-06-2011/ct-scans-lower-lung-cancer-deaths.html?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[7] Reuters reported: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/31/us-cancer-lung-idUSBRE9BT0Q020131231

[8] >> Get discounts on health products and services with your AARP Member Advantages.: http://discounts.aarp.org/savings/discounts/health-andamp;-wellness/uSource/HCTN/categoryId/724/subCategoryId/726?intcmp=AE-BL-HEA-DISC

[9] New Year’s Resolutions? How About Two Easy Ones?: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/12/31/new-years-resolutions-how-about-two-easy-ones/intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[10] ‘Dennis the Menace’ and Other Child Stars – Where Are They Now?: http://www.aarp.org/entertainment/television/info-08-2013/famous-child-stars-where-are-they-now-photos.html#slide1?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[11] Get free assistance with tax-return preparation from Tax-Aide: http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-ADV

[12] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?keycode=U9ZTPH9&intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[13] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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