November 17, 2014 | by Nicole White
Great strides have been made in treating cancer – including lung cancer – but by the time people show symptoms of the disease, the cancer has usually advanced. That's because, at early stages, lung cancer has no symptoms.
Only recently has lung cancer screening become an option. (Read more about the risks and benefits.) The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends screening with low-dose computed tomography (more commonly called a low-dose CT scan) for individuals who meet the following guidelines:
- Age 55 to 80 - Have a 30 pack-year smoking history. That is, the person smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years. - Currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years.
Currently, the recommendations call for screening to stop once a person has not smoked for 15 years or becomes severely ill and would not be able to undergo lung surgery.
Private insurance purchased through the new health care exchanges will be required to cover lung cancer screening by January 2015. Many private large group plans deem the screening “medically necessary,” though that is not a guarantee of coverage.
Medicare and Medicaid officials have determined this will be a covered benefit under the same guidelines -- but only beneficiaries age 55 to 74 will qualify. Those who pursue screening should seek out a screening center of excellence. Those centers are best equipped to interpret the results, and determine the most effective course of action if a nodule is found.
Today, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Because screening is so crucial to saving lives, City of Hope — a center of excellence for lung cancer screening – currently offers it, for $99, to people who meet the guidelines.
Feel free to reproduce and share our lung cancer screening graphic. Download the PDF.
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.