Annual CAT scans could be in the future for millions of smokers. It’s a recommendation from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Dr. Jeff Kanne, chief of thoracic imaging at UW Hospital and Clinics, said it’s for a specific group of patients, who’ve smoked heavily.
“It’s patients between the ages of 55 and 79, who have smoked at least 30 pack years. One pack year would be a pack a day for a year,” Kanne said.
AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60)
Patients must also be generally healthy. Kanne said the recommendation considers the lower costs, and better outcomes, when lung cancer is treated early. “The cost of treating lung cancer in its early stages is much lower than in its later stages, when it’s usually not curable and most of the treatment is for palliation only,” he said.
The task force estimates that its proposed recommendation will cut U.S. lung cancer deaths by 20-thousand a year, out of the nearly 160-thousand people who die of the disease annually. The task force will consider public comments, before issuing a final recommendation in three to six months.