News | September 17, 2013

John Muir Health to Implement New, National Lung Cancer Screening Recommendation for High-Risk Patients

Key research by physicians and staff contributed to landmark decision

September 17, 2013 – Since 2007, John Muir Health’s Clinical Research Center has been participating in a large-scale research project alongside dozens of other hospitals around the world as part of the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) and has screened 250 patients to date. The study quantifies the benefits of low dose computed tomography (CT) scans for early lung cancer detection in high-risk patients – current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 80.

The results of this and similar studies indicate that heavy smokers who undergo low dose CT scans compared to being screened with an X-ray have a 20 percent lower risk of dying from lung cancer. Based on these research findings, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel focused on prevention and evidence-based medicine, is recommending the screening as the new treatment standard for current and former smokers ages 55 to 80 who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, including those who have quit within the past 15 years.

“I believe this new screening standard will bring about a sea change in how lung cancer is detected and treated,” said Michaela Straznicka, co-medical director of John Muir Health’s Thoracic (Lung/Esophageal) Program. 

Today, lung cancer is usually not detected until patients begin to show symptoms and consult a doctor. By then, the cancer has generally reached a later-stage (III or IV) and is extremely difficult to cure – nearly 90 percent of lung cancer patients die from the disease. According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the United States. It caused 160,000 deaths in 2012, which is greater than those caused by colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. By using low dose CT scans to catch the cancer much earlier, doctors will now be able to offer more treatment options and save more lives. Lung cancers that are identified when they are small, and in the earliest stage, can be treated surgically to achieve cure rates as high as 94 percent.

 “The key is not only identifying these tumors, but then also having the expertise to successfully treat patients using minimally invasive surgical techniques with extremely low complication rates,” said Straznicka.

The final screening recommendation will be issued in three to six months and, under the benefits established by the Affordable Care Act, will be covered at no cost to patients as a preventive service. Currently, patients must pay out-of-pocket for the screening unless they have been part of the clinical trial.

“We applaud the efforts of John Muir Health. They are leaders in the lung cancer screening field and have put the needs of those at risk first and foremost. We commend them,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President and CEO of the Lung Cancer Alliance, a national non-profit that advocates for better lung cancer screening protocols. “Screening those at high risk now will dramatically make a difference and will open the door to much faster advances in research on all stages of lung cancer. It’s a game-changer.”

For people at high-risk for lung cancer, the effects of the new recommendations could be similar to how mammography changed the way women are screened for breast cancer.

“It’s the same process we went through with mammography. It took years and years and now it’s the standard of care for women around the world,” said Dr. Straznicka. “Once insurance companies begin to cover low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening, high-risk patients can have the security of having this life-saving scan annually.”

Related Content

Hospital for Special Surgery Invests in Sectra Orthopedic 3-D Planning Software
News | Orthopedic Imaging | January 18, 2018
January 18, 2018 – International medical imaging IT and cybersecurity company Sectra announces that Hospital for Spec
Philips Introduces Technology Maximizer Program for Imaging Equipment Upgrades
Technology | Imaging | January 17, 2018
January 17, 2018 — Philips recently announced the launch of Technology Maximizer, a cross-modality program designed t
Fat Distribution in Women and Men Provides Clues to Heart Attack Risk
News | Women's Health | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 – It’s not the amount of fat in your body but where it is stored that may increase your risk for hea
Minimally Invasive Treatment Provides Relief from Back Pain

Lumbar spine MRI showing disc herniation and nerve root at baseline and one month after treatment

News | Interventional Radiology | January 11, 2018
The majority of patients were pain free after receiving a new image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment for low back...
Emergency Radiologists See Inner Toll of Opioid Use Disorders

Rates of Imaging Positivity for IV-SUDs Complications. Image courtesy of Efren J. Flores, M.D.

News | Clinical Study | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 – Emergency radiologists are seeing a high prevalence of patients with complications related to opio
CT Shows Enlarged Aortas in Former Pro Football Players

3-D rendering from a cardiac CT dataset demonstrating mild dilation of the ascending aorta.

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | January 11, 2018
Former National Football League (NFL) players are more likely to have enlarged aortas, a condition that may put them at...

Size comparison between 3-D printed prosthesis implant and a penny.

News | 3-D Printing | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 — Researchers using...
BlueCross BlueShield Companies in Eight States Issue Positive Medical Policies for HeartFlow FFRct Analysis
News | CT Angiography (CTA) | December 28, 2017
HeartFlow Inc. announced that Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in five...
Artificial intelligence was the number one topic in radiology in 2017.

Artificial intelligence was the number one topic of interest in radiology in 2017, based on the most popular articles and videos on ITN in 2017.

Feature | Imaging | December 28, 2017
The Imaging Technology News (ITN) website had another record year with more than 1.25 million page views in 2017.
Median Technologies Collaborating With Chinese Hospital for Lung Cancer Screening Programs. Dave Fornell
News | Lung Cancer | December 22, 2017
Median Technologies recently announced a research collaboration agreement with Xingtai People's Hospital, Xingtai City...
Overlay Init