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Cancer Care: Lung Cancer Screening

Cancer Care: Lung Cancer Screening

As a healthcare professional who regularly confronts life-endangering cancer diagnoses and as a compassionate caregiver who witnesses firsthand the struggles of those with lung cancer, Valley Health cardiothoracic surgeon Shalini Reddy, MD, below shares helpful information about life-saving cancer screening. Thank you, Dr. Reddy, for sharing your insights.

There have been impressive developments in earlier diagnosis, improved surgical care, including robotics, and cutting-edge oncologic management of advanced lung cancer. One standout is routinely screening those at risk using low-dose chest imaging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual low dose chest CT for anyone with a smoking history of 20+ years, who is smoking now or has smoked in the last 15 years, and who is between the ages of 50 and 80 years old. Please note that the current criteria for Valley Health’s low dose CT screening program specify a minimum age of 55 and a 30 pack-year smoking history.

Risks of lung cancer screening such as a false-positive result, over-diagnosis or radiation exposure are vastly outweighed by the significant improvement in the survival benefits of early-stage diagnosis.

If screening eligibility criteria are met, most insurance plans and Medicare cover the cost of the test. Additional resources are increasingly available for the uninsured through philanthropic support, with increasing recognition of the risk-benefit analysis.

The availability of screening is a pivotal development in the fight against lung cancer, which has taken so many millions of lives prematurely over the years and touches millions of other lives, including loved ones.

While the scientific basis, rationale and effectiveness of lung cancer screening may be obvious to specialists, it is imperative for its success that all embrace and disseminate this knowledge throughout both the medical community and the broader population. Let every November, designated as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, be the month for renewal of the pledge for this much-needed action. Valley Health has resources available, and our team strongly encourages those who meet the criteria outlined above to talk with their doctor about scheduling a screening. Your life may depend on it.

To learn more about Valley Health’s low dose lung CT screening program, click here or call our lung navigator toll-free at 844-532-8669.