Attention Smokers; Past and Present

March 25, 2015


If you are a smoker, have a history of smoking or have even quit smoking within the past 15 years, the following information may pertain you.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a final recommendation on Screening for Lung Cancer. This applies to adults who have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer but who are at high risk for developing the disease because of their age and heavy-smoking history. A heavy smoker is classified as one who has a 30-pack year smoking history, meaning one who has smoked one pack of cigarettes per day, per year for 30 years, or two packs per day for 15 years.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screenings for lung cancer with low-dose computer tomography, also known as low-dose CT scan, for individuals who:

  • are between 55 and 80, and
  • have a history of heavy smoking, and
  • are either a current smoker or have quit within the past 15 years.

Low-dose computer tomography is a test which an x-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to make a series of detailed pictures of the lungs.

The screening is not new but until recently Medicare and private insurance did not cover the cost of the screening. Under the Affordable Care Act, Mercy will pre-authorize the test and bill either Medicare or private insurance. Insurance coverage varies by company so it’s important to check with the insurance provider to learn what is allowed and covered. If a person does not have insurance, or your insurance will not authorize, the cost of the screening is $150.

The low-dose CT scan for lung cancer screening must be ordered by a physician, so it’s important you make an appointment to discuss your qualifications and the risks of the screening with your doctor.

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer death. About 85 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The main test used to detect lung cancer is the low-dose computer tomography. The goal of screening for lung cancer is to identify the cancer at an early stage so that it can be successfully treated.

For more information, contact your doctor or call Mercy Clinic Fort Scott at 223-8040.

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