--This post was written by lung cancer expert Dr. Phillip Dennis.
Lung cancer is the most deadly cancer in the United States and will kill over 200,000 Americans this year. Deaths from lung cancer exceed the number of deaths from breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined. The high mortality of lung cancer is related to the fact that lung cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage when it is incurable. Today’s draft recommendation of annual low dose chest CT scans for lung cancer screening in high-risk individuals by the USPSTF is a milestone in health care, because screening for lung cancer is more likely to discover cancer when it is at a curable stage. This will prevent thousands of deaths in the United States every year. The benefits of lives saved by screening far exceed concerns over radiation exposure and costs of medical procedures needed to diagnose an abnormality seen on CT scan. We expect that the demand for screening will increase once the Center for Medicare and Medicaid and insurance companies offer coverage, which should follow the USPSTF recommendation.
At Johns Hopkins, we specialize in understanding an individual’s risk for lung cancer that is based on family history, occupational exposures, as well as smoking history. We have an established lung cancer screening clinic that is staffed by professionals from several disciplines, including radiologists that specialize in chest and lung imaging, pulmonary medicine, medical oncology, and thoracic surgery. If we discover an abnormality on chest CT, we arrange for individualized follow up to make sure you receive the best care possible, so that if you have lung cancer you have the best chance of being cured. To discuss your own risks for lung cancer and make an appointment with our team, please call 410-955-LUNG (955-5864).
Phillip A. Dennis, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Center of Excellence for Thoracic Oncology at Johns Hopkins
Director, Department of Oncology at Johns Hopkins Bayview