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Breakthrough in Lung Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society estimates that lung cancer killed over 150,000 Americans in 2018. For comparison purposes, colon cancer claimed the lives of 50,000 people, breast cancer resulted in the loss of 41,000 people, and prostate cancer took 29,000 lives.

One reason lung cancer kills more Americans than most other cancers is that it’s more difficult to treat if it is not identified in its early stages. The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer patients, regardless of stage, is a mere 18.6%. However, this survival rate can climb up to 70% so long as the growth is identified during stage 1A. Unfortunately, current statistics reveal that only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed during the early stages. As a result, over 50% of all lung cancer patients die within one year of being diagnosed. 

LDCT Scans

The solution is obvious: early detection. If we can improve detection, we can save lives. It just so happens that there has been a major breakthrough in lung cancer screening – a scan that is reliable, inexpensive, and readily available to healthcare providers throughout the country. The scan is called “Low Dose Computerized Tomography of the Chest,” or LDCT. Most people are familiar with CT studies. This test is basically a CT, though an extremely simple and practically hassle-free CT. It takes about one minute, it’s painless, it uses no dyes, it requires no injections, and nothing must be swallowed by mouth. The LDCT also exposes the patient to far less radiation than a typical CT scan. Before the LDCT was developed, a basic chest x-ray was the gold standard in front-line screening for lung cancer. While a chest x-ray can identify a tumor on the lung the size of a dime, the LDCT can detect a tumor the size of a grain of rice, and that means lives can be saved.

In light of the promise LDCT testing has shown, 8 national health organizations have developed and shared the recommendation that anyone over the age of 55 who has smoked 30 or more packs of cigarettes a year within the past 15 years should undergo an annual LDCT study. These organizations include: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, The American Association for Thoracic Surgery, The American College of Chest Physicians, The American Society of Clinical Oncology, The American Lung Association, The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, The United States Preventive Service Task Force, and The American Cancer Society.

Taking Control of Your Own Healthcare

In 2016, studies revealed that 7.6 million Americans met the criteria for screening, yet only 1.9% of these patients were screened. There are many theories circulating to account for this disconnect. Regardless of the reason, patients are increasingly counseled to take control of their own healthcare. If you are age 55 or older and have a smoking history that includes at least 30 packs of cigarettes in one calendar year within the last 15 years, ask your doctor to order an LDCT screen. It’s simple, fast, painless, and might just save your life. While many health plans are paying for this screening, always check first with your health insurer.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Medical professionals are expected to exercise a reasonable level of care when it comes to diagnosing and treating their patients. Contact the Columbus medical negligence attorneys at Rourke and Blumenthal if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and you have concerns as to whether a proper screening was conducted prior to the diagnosis. Our trial-tested legal team has recovered over $300 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients.

Call Rourke and Blumenthal at (614) 321-3212 to explore your legal options with a qualified legal professional.