Archive for ‘Lung’

November 11, 2015

November Is Lung Cancer Awareness Month!

Sheer_w_gold_ribbon[1]November is lung cancer awareness month, highlighting the leading cancer killer of adult men and women. Over 150,000 deaths from lung cancer are estimated to occur in women and men in 2015 making lung cancer the leading cause of cancer deaths by far. Only 15% of lung cancers are found at a localized stage meaning low survival rates.

What are the facts about this killer?

  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer. Around 90% of lung cancers are related to smoking.
  • Risk for lung cancer from smoking are related to the length of time and amount of smoking. Those who have smoked the equivalent of 30 pack years or more are at the greatest risk but even a history of 10 pack years of smoking means a higher risk of lung cancer.
  • Other risk factors include second hand smoke exposure, exposure to asbestos and exposure to radon gas. Family history may play a role in some.
  • Signs and symptoms from lung cancer are nonspecific, overlapping with many non-cancerous conditions and include: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing up blood.

What can we do to beat this killer?

  • Smoking cessation is key! If you smoke, your doctor has resources that can help you or your loved one quit.
  • Finding lung cancer earlier means improved survival.
  • Screening with low dose CT can lower the risk of dying from lung cancer with the largest study showing a decrease in the risk of death by at least 20%.

Who should undergo screening?

  • Current smokers or those who have quit smoking in the last 15 years.
  • Those who have smoked an equivalent of 30 pack years (for example, smoking 1 pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years, etc.).
  • Smokers aged 55-75.

Screening will occur with a low dose CT performed every year while criteria are met. Screening should be performed as part of a total program aimed at reducing the risk of lung cancer, meaning smoking cessation is a key part.

This November, let’s spread the word: lung cancer is a leading cancer killer, one which we CAN do something about. If you are at risk, get screened with low dose CT yearly and reduce your risk by joining the ranks of the non-smokers.

(Image credit: Sheer w gold ribbon by Niki K, copyright Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

February 9, 2015

Medicare: A Life-Saving Screening Now Covered

CT chestThis past week brought great news for Medicare patients! Medicare is now covering the cost of low-dose screening CT chests in selected patients. Screening with low-dose CT chest has been shown to save lives with the ability to diagnose lung cancer when it is small and more treatable.

Here are the details:

WHO is covered?

  •         Must be between 55 and 77 years of age
  •         Must be a current smoker or have quit smoking in the past 15 years
  •         Must have smoked the equivalent of 30 pack years (that means 1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years, or any other such combination)

WHAT steps are needed for coverage?

  •         Must have a  visit with their referring physician or nurse practitioner prior to the CT for “a shared-decision making/smoking cessation counseling session prior to being referred for their first screening exam.” This is not needed for studies after the first.
  •         Must have an order from the doctor or nurse practitioner.

HOW is the test done?

  •         This is a quick,  non-contrast CT of the chest done with low dose.
  •         This is part of a total program to reduce lung cancer risk, including the most important part – a goal of smoking cessation.
  •         The test is a screening test – meaning, if something is found (about 10% of the time) something else may be recommended – this could mean further imaging, including a CT chest with contrast, PET imaging or short-term follow up CT studies, or could mean a lung biopsy.
  •         This is intended to be repeated annually.
  •         Sites providing coverage must meet many requirements, including specifications on dose and follow-up of patients.

The possibility of decreasing the number of deaths from lung cancer by getting patients into a screening program is exciting.

 

If you or someone you know fits the above criteria, get an appointment with your doctor.  If it’s a loved one, you may be the voice that prompts their action!

 

Screening of smokers with low-dose CT chest is a huge leap forward in the fight against lung cancer.

 

 

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

September 8, 2014

7 Reasons Quitting Makes You a Winner


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Smoking by the numbers…

As physicians we want the best health for everyone. There are ways to work towards your best possible health including healthy diet and weight, regular exercise and getting regular screenings. Tobacco use has a huge impact on health, something we as radiologists see on a daily basis. Smoking kills. It’s an addiction, one of the hardest habits to break, but quitting IS possible and translates to immediate and long-term health benefits.

 

Just how bad is tobacco use?

 

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.  Here are more shocking numbers about the impact of smoking:

 

  • 20.5% of men and 15.8% of women are current smokers.
  • 20% of deaths in the US are due to tobacco-related diseases.
  • 10 people die EVERY MINUTE from tobacco-related illnesses.
  • What kind of illnesses are related? Tobacco use is related to: cancer (lung, esophagus, oral, bladder and more), heart attacks, strokes, peripheral vascular disease, infertility, gum disease, emphysema, impotence and more!
  • Each puff of cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemicals including 80 known to cause cancer. Did you know smoking brings carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and lead into your lungs with every puff?
  • 11% of pregnant women smoke during pregnancy.
  • Tobacco use contributes to 20-30% of low-birth weight infants and led to preterm delivery in 14% of newborns.

Sobering numbers and still only a small spectrum of tobacco’s impact. The bright spot is that smoking declined from 2005 to 2012 by nearly 3%.  Let’s keep that trend going by stamping out those butts. For more on taking the steps to quitting look here: http://smokefree.gov.

 

Now, on to a healthier you!

 

 

(Image credit: “Spitkid” by Opa – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

 

July 7, 2014

7 Resources for Quitting Smoking

Kicking the Habit!We talk a good game about vascular health and lung screenings… however, we realize that for many the difficulties of winning the war against tobacco are not easy. We can say “quit smoking”, but without offering suggestions for help in the fight, the words can seem hollow (and more than a little naggy!).

 

The great news is this: many tools and systems exist to help pave the way to tobacco-free healthier lungs and bodies. From mobile phone apps (many of which are free!), to encouraging support groups to some basic tips and tricks, help is just around the corner, or in the palm of your hand.

 

Both the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association websites have “how-to” resources for quitting smoking. Additionally, here are some useful phone apps we’d like to highlight:

 

  • SmokeFree Teen is available for the younger set – not starting is MUCH easier than quitting, and quitting is easier when the addiction is still young.

 

 

  • SmokeFreeTXT was created by the National Cancer Institute and uses text messages which pop up anytime, day or night. Additionally, the NCI has created a “Live Help” chat service to interact with as well. Chat here.

 

  • And, if you’re old-school and prefer to reach out for help on the phone, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) is there for you too!

 

  • Don’t forget your doctor – your physician can help you determine which is the best quitting strategy for you – including whether medications might be of help.

 

The most important step is the hardest first step deciding now is the time to take action. So, make the step, set a date for quitting – today is always good!- and know that the benefits begin immediately. Within hours your carbon monoxide levels drop and within a day your risk of heart attack decreases!

 

Whatever your method for prying yourself away from the pack, we’d be happy to hear about your success! Please share your successes with us on Twitter: @dic_kc! Best of luck and here’s to your best possible health!

 

(Image credit: No Smoking – American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke Out by U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Brittany Perry via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain)

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

 

June 25, 2014

Lung Cancer Screening Gets Another Leg Up

Symbol kept vote Green by Zorglub via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedThe votes in support of low-dose screening CT chest for high risk smokers are growing. Recently the American Medical Association – the largest association of doctors from all specialties in the US – added their support to guidelines recommending this potentially life-saving exam.

 

Lung cancer is a killer. In the US, lung cancer causes more deaths than breast + prostate + colon cancer – more deaths than all of those cancers combined! Studies on low-dose CT screening (the National Lung Screening Trial) showed early detection saves lives! There was a 20% reduction in deaths in heavy smokers from lung cancer due to CT screening in this study. This is why low dose chest CT is so crucial. Finding lung cancer early, when it is potentially treatable is the goal of screening.

 

As accredited members of the American College of Radiology, we are thrilled that the ACR is fighting to support the recommendations of the United States Preventative Services Task Force for high-risk patients. (Read all about it here.) The Task Force recommended coverage beginning January 2015 for high risk patients, including those 55-80 years with significant smoking histories (defined as greater than a 30 pack-year history of smoking) or for those who were former heavy smokers who have quit in the last 15 years. The Task Force recommendations will apply to those patients with insurance.

 

The fight for coverage of Medicare patients is still on-going, and is the focus of the ACR and other groups. The Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advising Committee made a controversial stand against support of low-dose CT screening early this year. Medicare will make its final vote in the fall. We think including Medicare patients in coverage for this important, potentially life-saving exam is crucial.

Make your voice heard – add your vote in favor of low-dose screening CT chest for all who will benefit- including Medicare patients! Contact your local congresspersons (here) and let them know you agree.

(Image credit: Symbol kept vote Green by Zorglub via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

 

May 1, 2014

Lung Cancer Screening and (New) Recommendations

smoking kills by André Hengst via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)When it comes to cancer, lung cancer leads the list of the most deadly for men and women in the US. Fighting this disease has been an uphill battle, impeded by the fact that most patients are not diagnosed until late in their disease. Having an effective screening test to identify lung cancer when it is small and treatable has been a goal for years – the development of low-dose CT chest for the screening for lung cancer has brought hope.

 

We are therefore profoundly disappointed that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)’s Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) did not vote to recommend Medicare coverage of low-dose CT screening. Their primary concern is not that is does not find cancer, but that it will find too many things that are not cancer.

 

We disagree with the CMS, as do other (more important!) groups in the US. The United States Preventative Services Task Force (their statement can be found here) recently recommended coverage. This is critical, as those preventive services deemed appropriate by the Task Force are mandated to be covered under the Affordable Care Act. What does that mean? A double standard – those with health insurance will be covered, those with Medicare will not if the CMS acts on the recommendations of their advisory committee.

 

One of the (many!) advocates of low-dose CT screening is the American College of Radiology (their statement can be found here). The ACR supports the use of screening CT chests in those patients at the highest risk – in other words, heavy smokers or heavy former smokers. The National Lung Screening Trial found that there was a 20% reduction in deaths for heavy smokers due to screening (the trial report can be found here). That’s no small number. The ACR is working on developing uniform guidelines to help with interpretation and to reduce the number of false findings – those that seemed to concern the Advisory Committee.

 

Luckily, the CMS is not bound by the recommendations of MEDCAC and action based on the recommendation isn’t expected until late fall of this year. We hope that reevaluation of the data occurs between now and then, so that Medicare patients are covered.

 

If you’d like to know more about lung cancer and what you can do about it, we recommend checking out Free to Breathe. Eliminating the use of tobacco is a larger goal which will more profoundly affect lung cancer in the US – if you smoke, get help to stop.

Imagine attribution: smoking kills by André Hengst via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

February 18, 2014

Smoking kills – Seriously, In More Ways Than One!

Smoking Kills by Vanderloot ∴ via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Smoking Kills by Vanderloot ∴ via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We typically don’t go for sensationalized article titles (there’s plenty of that out there without having to drum up extra) but the recent word from the Surgeon General’s office is serious.

USA Today quoted Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC as saying, “Amazingly, smoking is even worse than we knew – even after 50 years we’re still finding new ways that smoking maims and kills people.”

In this year, the fiftieth anniversary of the Surgeon General’s office calling tobacco what it is – a killer, the report (which can be found here) enumerates the sins of the smoke. Most people know that tobacco contains known carcinogens, and is related to lung and other head and neck cancers. The damage of smoking to the lungs is widely known and acknowledged. The acceleration of vascular disease and the association between smoking and cardiovascular disease is well-studied and widely known.

The more widespread effects of tobacco are less well known, and new associations are increasingly being recognized. The surgeon general in this report concluded that smoking is causally-linked – many smoking can directly cause -diabetes, liver and colorectal cancers. These are fairly recent additions to the list of diseases and damage from smoking.

The body – from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes and all parts between – is harmed by tobacco and smoking. Did you know smoking is related to macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness), erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, growth problems in fetuses whose mothers smoke as well as cleft lips and palates? Amazing that after 50 years scientists are still uncovering more ways tobacco damages the body.

This is not intended as a public shaming campaign for smokers, but a call to health for all. We need to work together to educate and keep others from starting on the path to addiction and help those who are addicted. We know it’s not easy. Some resources for quitting can be found here.