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Health Beat: Lung cancer screening guidelines

Published On: Aug 06 2014 12:13:18 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 04 2014 05:37:58 PM EDT

Each year, lung cancer kills half of those diagnosed and more people than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. Unlike those other cancers, there's been no medical agreement on early detection screening for lung cancer.

The findings of a National Cancer Institute trial, however, have resulted in new screening recommendations, and new hope for the seven million Americans who are at high risk for lung cancer.


CT scans have become a yearly ritual for Jody Wilson. After a severe and continuous cough, doctors diagnosed and cured her lung cancer.

"I was absolutely sure if the cancer came back, I would know, and I didn't," Wilson said.

In 2011, Wilson had no symptoms, but doctors found a new cancer in her good lung. Researchers are just now discovering the importance of low-dose radiation chest CT scans in the early detection of lung cancer.


A National Cancer Institute study shows a 20 percent decrease in mortality compared to x-ray screening.

The new CT scan recommendations address individuals at high risk for lung cancer. For example, those who are 55- to 75-years-old, those who smoke or have quit within 15 years and those who smoked at least pack a day for a total of 20 to 30 years.

Dr. Avnit Kapur, diagnostic radiologist at Weiss Memorial Hospital Chicago, is optimistic about the tests.

"If the cancer is found early it can be treated, it can be cured," Kapur said.

Wilson said she understands people's hesitation but she's living proof of the benefit of getting tested.

Currently, many insurance companies are not covering the low-dose chest CT scans for lung cancer screening, however, some hospitals do offer affordable CT scans for about $200.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor