The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, of which Mayo Clinic is a partner, is announcing a preliminary recommendation that people at high risk for lung cancer consider having annual low-dose CT scans. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer, resulting in 85 percent of the lung cancers in the United States, and high-risk individuals are those 55 to 80 years old with a "30 pack year or greater smoking history." That can translate as someone who has smoked a pack a day for 30 years or someone who smoked two packs a day for 15 years.
Results of the National Lung Screening Trial, published in the fall of 2011, suggested that smokers and former smokers might benefit from lung CT scan screening. It found a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths with CT scan screening. Federal agencies and medical professionals have been discussing the findings ever since. Mayo Clinic took part in that trial, and thoracic surgeon Stephen Cassivi, M.D., calls today's announcement a mandate that will certainly save lives.
Journalists: B-roll of a patient having a lung CT scan and sound bites with Drs. Cassivi and Midthun are available in the downloads.
/// SOUND BITE Stephen Cassivi, M.D. / Mayo Clinic Thoracic Surgeon - (Cassivi pronounced KASS-uh-vee) CASSIVI SOT #2 - A MANDATE TO SAVE LIVES: /// SOT "This is the first major federal body to recognize the benefit for patients and for people in terms of saving lives of people with lung cancer." TRT :12
Mayo Clinic pulmonologist David Midthun, M.D., says a big reason survival rates for lung cancer are so poor is that there are few clues a person has it until it's too advanced.
/// SOUND BITE David Midthun, M.D. / Mayo Clinic Pulmonologist - (Midthun pronounced Mih-TOON)
MIDTHUN #1 - TOO OFTEN TOO LATE /// SOT “We’re finding it with symptoms at a point where it’s no longer curable and the hope with CT screening is that we’ll find many more early stage cancers at a time when we can intervene.” TRT :15
Dr. Midthun says he is hopeful medical insurance providers will see the value of the task force recommendation and decide to pay for CT scans for high-risk patients because, as of today, very few companies will cover it.