Augusta, GA - Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, claiming more than one million lives each year.  However, years have been spent debating the usefulness and recommendations for lung cancer screening.

Now, the American Cancer Society says there is enough evidence to recommend screening, but only for current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74. This evidence is based on a study conducted in 2011 that found low-dose CT scans could cut the chances of dying of lung cancer by 20 percent and from any cause by nearly 7 percent. The new guidelines, announced Friday, are a cautious, but exciting step against the world's most deadly cancer, doctors who wrote the advice say.

This low-dose CT lung screening is offered locally at Doctors Hospital for patients who meet one of the following two scenarios:

  • Age 55-74 years-old and an active or former smoker with a minimum of a 30 pack-year history of smoking (a pack-year is equivalent to 1 pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years, or 2 packs per day for 15 years, etc.).
  • Age 50 or older with a 20 pack-year (or less) smoking history, in addition to one of the following:  radon exposure, a history of lung disease, family history of lung cancer or other occupational exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals.

The greatly reduced cost of the screening is only $265.  Payment is due upfront as it is not covered by most insurance plans. However, this is a small price to pay according to former screening patient, Jesse Gamble, “I’m a long-time smoker and have never had my lungs checked, but I knew that this was a rate I could afford.  When I heard that my lungs were in good condition I was so relieved, like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.”  Those who feel they meet the criteria can call 706-651-4343 to schedule a screening.

Dr. Guillermo Amurao, MD, MPH, lung specialist and lung cancer advocate who serves as the Medical Director of Critical Care at Doctors Hospital sees this as a large next step in the fight against lung cancer. “This is powerful research that we know may help save lives. Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined so we want the appropriate members of the community to have the opportunity to get this screening. Not everyone is suitable for this test, but in the right person it is potentially life-saving. Of course, it must also be emphasized that quitting smoking is a more proven and powerful way to prevent death and complications from lung cancer.”

For more information call 706-651-LUNG (5864).

Interview Opportunities:
Dr. Guillermo Amurao, MD, MPH, FCCP, Medical Director of Critical Care at Doctors Hospital