New Screening Detects Lung Cancer Much Earlier

April 01, 2014

If you are a heavy smoker, you may be aware of the risks associated with smoking. Catching problems early can make a world of difference.

For many years, there was no reliable way to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages. But now there is.

Early detection saves lives

Lung cancer remains the biggest cause of cancer death in the United States. One reason is that by the time doctors see symptoms of the disease, it is usually advanced and hard to treat.

Now, using a low-dose CT scan, doctors can take more detailed pictures of the lungs, meaning they can detect cancer much sooner.

“When we diagnose lung cancer early, we can often successfully treat 70 to 80 percent of patients,” says Robert Chapman, M.D., director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute and division head of Hematology and Medical Oncology for Henry Ford Medical Group. “It makes a huge difference.”

Who should be screened?

Doctors measure smoking history in “pack years” -- the amount of cigarettes you would smoke if you smoked a pack a day for a year. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that anyone age 55 to 80 who has a 30-pack-year smoking history and who still smokes or has quit within the past 15 years get screened each year.

While insurance companies and Medicare may cover CT lung screening for smokers in the future, today they don’t. Fortunately, Henry Ford West Bloomfield is stepping in to fill the gap.

For $99, you can receive this vital lung cancer screening if you are age 55 to 74 and meet either of the following criteria:

  • You are a current smoker who smoked on average at least one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or more.
  • You are a former smoker who quit less than 15 years ago after a significant smoking history.

Eligibility for the $99 screening will be determined at the time you schedule your appointment.

The scan is simple and painless, and takes just 15 to 20 minutes.

“If you are in your 50s or 60s and have been a heavy smoker, ask your doctor for a referral,” says Dr. Chapman. “Get the scan and gain some peace of mind.”