CT Scans for Smokers In Vogue Again

Based on a review of evidence, including a large National Cancer Institute study involving more than 53,000 people with a history of smoking at least one cigarette pack daily for 30 years or two packs for 15 years, new guidelines are recommending that they receive annual low-dose CT scans of their lungs.  The advice applies only to those aged 55 to 74, which would make 8 million Americans eligible for screening but possibly prevent 4,000 lung cancer deaths per year.  The groups recommending this are the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.   Of course the cost of such venture really isn’t discussed and neither is the issue that the smoker did choose to put himself or herself in harm’s way.  This is an easy recommendation for these cancer groups but it really is an ethical dilemma.  Would it actually hinder a people from quitting smoking because they know they will be getting an annual CT scan?  Is this is the best way to spend limited resources (on smokers in their 70s who have a very small chance of quitting)?


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  6 comments for “CT Scans for Smokers In Vogue Again

  1. msdelta
    May 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    complete waste of resources

  2. Panacea
    May 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Did they calculate the QALY in # cartons saved?

    Also, think of the amount of cessation/prevention that could be provided per CT !!

  3. William Harrington
    May 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I was one who had a CT scan. I had been smoking for 47 years. I had received an x-ray each year for a number of years. The CT scan saw an abnormality, the ‘imaging dept’ notified my primary physician who ordered a PET scan which confirmed the presence of non-small cell cancer. This would not have shown up on an x-ray until the cancer had progressed much farther.. Even though the cost is higher for the CT I believe finding it sooner was the reason I am cancer free

  4. Lisa Gwin
    May 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    How many cancers would we CAUSE with the radiation?!?

  5. Sheila Chambers
    May 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    If their still smoking that late in life, why bother? Their not going to quit,it’s just an unnecessarily expenses, they don’t have much longer anyhow and if cancer does show up, is it treatable at that late stage of life?

    I say let them “enjoy” their cancer sticks until the end.
    BTW, I’m 72.

  6. Michelle
    May 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Would the lung cancer thus found even be treatable?

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