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Calls For Inclusion of Low Dose CT Screening For Those At High Risk For Lung Cancer
Washington, DC [Friday, March 16, 2012]—Today, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) said that the new anti-tobacco campaign just launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an important revitalization of the efforts to prevent young people from smoking and encourage all who do smoke to quit.
LCA President and CEO, Laurie Fenton Ambrose said, “this is among our top national public health priorities and we have to persist in our efforts to protect our children and loved ones from the scourge of big tobacco.”
Moreover Fenton Ambrose continued, “the timing of this effort could not be better as we now have scientific validation, provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) last year, that offering the life saving benefit of CT screening to those who heed this call to quit could save their lives.”
The large randomized controlled trial initiated by NCI in 2003 was terminated last year as soon as it became evident that screening high risk smokers and former smokers with CT scans could detect lung cancer at its earliest stage and be more effective in reducing lung cancer deaths than mammography screening for breast cancer or PSA testing for prostate cancer.
An actuarial analysis conducted by Milliman in 2010 estimated that the number of lives saved could be as high as 70,000 people a year.
In a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and CDC Director Thomas Frieden, Fenton Ambrose emphasized that “the broader agenda” being considered under this campaign has a new tool in its arsenal and that tool is low dose CT screening, which can detect life threatening tobacco-related disease at earlier and more curable stages. Research also shows that CT screening can increase quit rates.
Shortly after the release of the results of the NCI study, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the leading authority on evidence based guidelines for cancer detection and treatment, gave CT screening its highest level of endorsement. A major national health insurer also announced it would cover CT screening for those at high risk for lung cancer.
Last month, LCA issued the National Framework for Excellence in Lung Cancer Screening and Continuum of Care, to help incorporate safe, effective, and equitable CT screening, consistent with the highest standards of care within public health.
“The Framework lays it all out,” said Fenton Ambrose. “What are the rights of the public, what standards should be followed by screening sites, and how do we collect and manage data on outcomes so we can continuously improve and refine the process as we learn more and as advances in imaging and molecular detection occur.”
The Framework includes smoking cessation as a key part of the screening process. It also calls on those who are screened and on screening sites to donate data and biomedical specimens to further research into biomarkers and precancerous conditions that could shed more light on non-smoking related lung cancers, which are now the sixth leading cause of cancer death.
To view the letter, click here.