Saving Lives With Screening

A MESSAGE FROM LCA PRESIDENT & CEO, LAURIE FENTON AMBROSE

On average over  435 people die a day of lung cancer.  Over 200 won’t – if we implement CT screening right – right now.  And the good news is that pieces are falling into place to start saving lives today!

First, science has now proven beyond a doubt that low dose CT screening for those at high risk for lung cancer will increase survival rates. In November 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial, the largest cancer screening trial ever conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), showed that screening those at high risk with a low dose CT scan improves survival by 20%. Other studies and modeling analyses have also shown that the improvement could be as high as 64%!

Second, there are a defined set of risk factors for people to know if they are at risk for lung cancer. An extensive smoking history, an advanced age, a family history and certain exposures to Agent Orange or other known carcinogens, among others, can put you at elevated risk for the disease.

Third, major medical associations have put together clinical guidelines to aid medical professionals in their efforts to set up responsible screening programs across the country.

Fourth, in addition to the clinical guidelines, Lung Cancer Alliance developed a set of principles to link and guide best practices uniformly among community-based and academic medical centers.  These principles are laid out in the  National Framework of Excellence for Lung Cancer Screening and Continuum of Care, and to date have over 75 medical centers following these best practices.

Fifth, some insurance companies have begun to cover lung cancer screening for those at risk in their health care plans.   

But the most important missing piece right now is government action.  The governing body that ranks all screening methods, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, (USPSTF), has been evaluating the available data but has yet to come out with its recommendation.  This delay is inexplicable.  We are urging an expedited review and calling for its highest level of recommendation.

We are working here in DC to ensure the life saving benefit of low dose CT screening is available to those who need it most.

While we continue this life-saving work – please be mindful of your health and the health of your loved ones. Learn about your risk for lung cancer. If you feel you could be at high risk, call your doctor or contact a screening center of excellence for help. The next life saved, could be your own.