My grandpa said, “I don’t need a test for that, I quit smoking a decade ago.” This was shortly before he was diagnosed with the lung cancer that took his life.
My dad, not wanting to worry anyone, said “It’s probably just pneumonia.” Days later he was diagnosed with the lung cancer that ended his life 12 weeks later.
The anecdotes are part of our family’s story and countless others. Yes, prevention is the best medicine, but it only works if actively pursued.
Take cancer screenings, for example. Mammograms and colonoscopies are a routine regular part of most health consumer’s journey. Along the way there are questions from providers about smoking history, but maybe not an actual screening.
Some people, like my dad, opt-out. They don’t want to know their risk for lung cancer. Others, like my grandpa, don’t know they need a screening because they quit smoking years ago. Many more assume they didn’t smoke enough cigarettes for enough years to be affected or qualify.
The criteria for a CT Lung Screening is complex. Specifically, insurance will only cover a low dose CT lung scan, without a co-pay, if the patient meets high-risk criteria:
- Current smoker or quit within the past 15 years
- 30 pack-year smoking history (e.g. 1 pack per day for 30 years, or 2 packs per day for 15 years, or 3 packs per day for 10 years)
- Age 55–80 years old with private insurance or are 55–77 years old and have Medicare.
(Information provided by the American Lung Association)
According to the American Cancer Society, when caught early (Stage 1 or 2), the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is 68-92 percent. At Stage 4, the survival rate drops below 10 percent. This significant difference is critical to invite past and current smokers to understand their risk and assess the need for routine screening. Both of the men in my life would have been covered by the screening test.
Keep in mind, Medicom Health’s Lung Cancer HRA is intended only for people who have NOT already been diagnosed with lung cancer. The results are based on widely accepted research from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, but are only accurate for the intended audience. At the end of the assessment, users are stratified to one of the following for specific nurturing and lead follow-up:
- Screening May Be Recommended
- Not Currently Recommended
- Discuss Screening Options at Age 55
- Discuss Screening Options with a Doctor
- Not Recommended Due to Age
- Former Smoker—Not Recommended
- Never Smoker—Not Recommended