Posts tagged ‘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)

June 17, 2015

Knock Out Lung Cancer with Low Dose CTs

Patient-Flyer---Lung-CT-UMKC

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!

 

July 2, 2014

We Love… Free to Breathe!

Free to Breathe logoFor all our talk about lung cancer screening, what we’d love most is to not need screening at all – which is to say, what if… lung cancer were not the threat it is today? This is why we love Free to Breathe!

 

Free to Breathe’s mission is to “ensure surviving lung cancer is the expectation, not the exception.” For all the strides being made in the war on cancer, lung cancer lags behind in both survivorship and early detection.

 

Contrary to popular belief lung cancer doesn’t just occur in smokers (though smoking does radically increase risk and if you need to quit, here are a few things to know). Lung cancer can also run in families of nonsmokers, can be seen in those affected by secondhand smoke, may result from some environmental/ industrial exposures and may arise in people without specific risks.

 

According to scientific studies, “People who have never smoked account for 20,000 – 30,000 lung cancer diagnoses every year.”

 

Not only is it a debilitating and potentially deadly disease, lung cancer is typically detected late in the game. Signs and symptoms often show up late, but may include breathing-related issues like coughing up blood or trouble breathing but also back, shoulder or chest pain. See your doctor promptly if you have concerns.

 

Free to Breathe’s vision is to cut lung cancer deaths in half by 2022. We can’t wait for this to be the reality! We encourage you to like them here too.

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!

March 4, 2014

Effective, Cost Effective, Life-saving CTs

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The number of people dying from lung cancer in the US per year is greater that the number of deaths from breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Despite the scope of the problem of lung cancer, early detection has been the subject of debate. Recent studies have shown that low-dose CT screening for lung cancer in high-risk smokers can reduce cancer deaths. The detection of small lung cancers before spreading outside the lungs has been shown to save lives.

According to a newly published study, there’s more good news about CT lung screening for smokers age 55-75. This study shows the success of CT screening out in the communities – not just in academic centers. Naturally, the best way to save lives from lung cancer is to never use tobacco or to stop using it. But as long as patients are fighting the uphill battle for lung health, it is keenly important to fight it on all fronts, from prevention to early detection.

For successful lung cancer screening, CT scans must be “low dose”, referred to as LDCT. We are always conscious of and try to limit radiation dose wherever possible in our practice. The principle of imaging is using the lowest dose possible to achieve the images we need. Studies have shown we can safely use LDCT for early detection of lung cancer. This study in particular shows that low dose CT programs can hit the trifecta of helpfulness: they are effective in finding lung cancer, can be performed cost-effectively and can save lives. There you have it.

The January recommendation from the US Preventative Services Task Force said that high-risk patients could benefit greatly from regular low-dose CT screenings. This is timely news as the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are currently determining coverage feasibility. This recent study shows that execution and efficacy are possible!

Hopefully, we will be seeing programs develop and expand as a result of these findings. For those at high risk, lung cancer screening with low dose CT and early detection can be life changing and life saving.

January 9, 2014

Smokers and CT Screenings

Smoking woman Kelsey by Kelsey via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Smoking woman Kelsey by Kelsey via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

As a follow up to our post in July of this year on the United States Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF or task force for shorter!) draft recommendation with regards to lung cancer and CT screening, the final report has been recently published with full recommendations just in time to start the new year.

While the recommendations for who should undergo what type of screening have not changed since the initially-released draft, putting the full voice of the USPSTF behind it does have an effect. Under new healthcare legislation, Task Force-backed cancer screenings will be covered without co-pays in the relatively near future. This means that those who need screening tests will have greater access to them.

So, who needs to be screened for lung cancer? The task force has specified who fits in the high-risk category for lung cancer.

  • Those who smoke at least a pack a day for 30 years (or its equivalent, such as 2 packs a day for 15 years), are between the ages of 55-80 or have stopped smoking less than 15 years ago fall into the high-risk, should be screened category.

  • Exemptions are made for those who have been smoke-free for 15 years or more or those who aren’t currently well enough to go through cancer treatment.

If you fall in a high-risk category, screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT can save lives by finding lung cancer when it is smaller and more treatable, offering hope for a disease which until now had a pretty dismal outlook. The CT scan is done in a matter of a few minutes, and differs from a routine CT in that lower than usual dose is used so that the study can be repeated annually as needed.

And because early detection saves lives, this new CT screening test holds the possibility of moving the approximately 10 million high risk individuals* on their way to better health.

 

*Yes there are that many who fall into the “high risk” category. Please give up the habit!

November 8, 2013

International Day of Radiology

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Copyright Public Domain

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Copyright Public Domain

Today, November 8th, is the International Day of Radiology — Let’s Celebrate Together!

You can show your support by changing your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile picture for the occasion… or just print yourself a mask. (Some people are already getting silly with this – on the other side of the world even!)

So… yesterday was Madame Curie’s birthday, which we love to celebrate for so many reasons, as she was an amazing scientist and an amazing woman. Today is the anniversary of the discovery of x-rays by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.

X-ray technology has revolutionized medicine, from conventional x-rays to check for broken bones to other modalities, such as CT scans and mammograms, which also use x-rays to form the images. These imaging techniques based on the x-ray allow an amazing view of the internal structure of our bodies, from our heads to our toes and every part in between. In short, medicine would not be what it is today without Röntgen’s discovery.

In a move of serendipity (perhaps not an accident…), November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and this year’s International Day of Radiology has a focus on lung health. We’re fans of our lungs (yours too)! On both of our blogs, we’ve written about scientific progress in imaging and early detection of lung cancer, as well as how to kick the smoking habit for the sake of good health, including breast health. Using CT techniques with low-dose, we now have a way of screening for and finding lung cancer – a method which will hopefully enable us to find smaller, more treatable lung tumors in those at high risk. Reducing risk is key – we should not lose sight of that in our celebration of lung health and imaging.

We love our jobs, based on the discoveries of amazing individuals, and through our blogs hope to educate people on how radiologists can help you on your path towards better health. We can’t imagine our world without the discovery of Röntgen – we applaud him and all the researchers in imaging since him who have had such a tremendous impact on medicine and health. Cheers, radiology!