Screenings

The John and Amy Mewhiney Cancer Foundation is proud to work with Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland on the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (IELCAP) trials. Screening is the most effective method for early detection of lung cancer. IELCAP screening involves a low dose CT scan that takes a 64 slice picture of the lung.  In comparison, an x-ray takes a one slice picture.

In October, 2010 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released the results of a 10 year government funded study on the efficacy of CT scans in reducing lung cancer deaths.  The study involved more than 53,000 people at high risk for lung cancer.

The study found that CT scans saved 2,037 more lives after three years of scans than x-rays did.  The trial was actually stopped early because the results in favor of scanning for lung cancer were so overwhelming, and researchers could no longer justify not offering scans to smokers and ex-smokers.  Advocates of CT scanning believe that if screening were to continue on individuals at risk for lung cancer for 10 years, as many as 80% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided.

Since 2004, I-ELCAP at Holy Cross has screened over 1500 patients. Eight patients have been diagnosed with lung cancer, six of whom are alive and well. If you are a smoker or former smoker 40 years old or older and have not had a chest CT in the past three years, you may be eligible for free CT screening through the I-ELCAP STUDY.

Following a decision by the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) giving low dose CT screening for lung cancer a B rating, insurance companies now cover lung cancer screening with no co-pay for at risk persons.

You must meet the following criteria:

  • Are between 55 and 79
  • Have a 30 pack year history of smoking; that is, you smoked one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years
  • Smoke or have quit smoking less than 15 years ago

Under the Affordable Care Act lung cancer screening is now covered as an Essential Benefit by insurance without a cost share, and covered by Medicare without a cost share or co-pay. Those wishing to be screened must meet certain criteria. Check with your insurance carrier to see if you qualify.