Importance of lung cancer screenings

Screenings can cut lung cancer related deaths by 20%


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending lung cancer screenings for people who have a high risk of developing the disease.

UF Health got the technology for these screenings just a few months ago.

Dr. Abubakr Bajwa with UF Health told Channel 4 that these lung cancer screenings can really help save lives. He says unfortunately - right now - the screenings aren't covered by insurance but he expects that to change quickly after insurers see the success and benefits of these tests.

"There are about 160,000 deaths due to lung cancer in the US and by estimate anywhere between 12,000 to 20,000 would be preventive if lung cancer screening recommendations are implemented," said Dr. Abubakr Bajwa.

Nine million people in the US qualify for lung cancer screenings, according to Dr. Abubakr Bajwa with UF Health. He says these screenings are a low dose CT scan that minimize the exposure to radiation and will cut lung cancer related deaths by at least 20 percent.

"The US task force came out with endorsement of the lung cancer screening recommended for folks with high risk," said Dr. Abubakr Bajwa.

To qualify for the screenings you must be high risk. A high risk person is someone who:

  • has smoked 1 pack per day for at least 30 years or at least 2 packs for 15 years,
  • is in between the ages of 55 and 79 and
  • someone who has smoked their last cigarette within the last 15 years.

Dr. Bajwa said there is a risk to these screenings.

"There may be a number of false positive tests meaning there are spots detected on CT scans that are actually not cancerous and there may be significant costs in chasing those spots down all this time when they may not have cancer," said Dr. Bajwa.

Dr. Bajwa said the benefits of these screenings far outweigh the risks. If you want to learn more about these screenings, or about lung cancer in general, UF Health, Mayo and the American Lung Association are hosting a symposium on September 28th. For more information call 904-520-7114.