New Guidelines Lower Recommended Age For Lung Screenings

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released updated final recommendations for computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screenings, lowering the starting age from 55 to 50, and adjusting smoking history from 30 pack-years to 20 pack-years.

The panel’s previous recommendation made in 2013, recommended screenings between the ages of 55 and 80, and for individuals who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Chattanooga thoracic surgeon Dr.
Rob Headrick believes the benefits of detecting lung cancer as early as possible outweigh the risks. “Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. dies of lung cancer. These new recommendations from the USPSTF are helpful because they increase the eligible population who can get screened, thus increasing the chances of catching lung cancer earlier. The earlier we are able to catch this type of cancer, the better. It is a step in the right direction,” he said. 

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer death, with an estimated 137,720 people dying of the disease in 2020. In addition, an estimated 228,820 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. in 2020. Because of this, Dr. Headrick wanted to find a way to make screenings more accessible and less daunting to patients.

Dr. Headrick and his colleagues assembled a team and took on the task of designing and building a unique lung screening program that included a built-from-scratch bus featuring independent power, climate control, patient comfort, a portable CT scanner, and drivability. The project became known as “Breathe Easy”.

“The Breathe Easy mobile lung bus brings the imaging center to the patient. This can be at a place of employment, a church or a restaurant parking lot,” said Dr. Headrick. “It also makes the process quick, simple and safe. Many patients are afraid to go to the hospital, especially right now, but they are very willing to go to the bus. There is no waiting room filled with people, nor is a lot of time required. Screening exams have to be made simple or people will not get them done. We believe that if we take the technology to the people, especially those most at risk, lives will be saved.”

The Breathe Easy mobile has now been in operation for more than three years, with the latest version of the bus arriving this month. In March 2020, the COVID crisis began to impact lung cancer care, causing many primary care practices and hospital-based lung screening programs to close. The Breathe Easy mobile, however, continued to perform lung screenings in rural Tennessee and added diagnostic scans for patients in the nodule surveillance program. Finding lung cancer early is the key to survival. The Breathe Easy program has been successful in early detection, as 77 percent of the lung cancers found were in an early stage. 

“This bus has provided us with the opportunity to help advance lung cancer screening,” said Dr. Headrick. “It’s only through conversations and efforts such as the Breathe Easy program that we are going to erase the stigma surrounding lung cancer and change the survival rates.”

The USPSTF panel is an independent group of medical specialists whose advice helps determine federal policy. The federal Medicare program has agreed with the recommendations and private insurers will be required to include free CT screenings under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The task force estimates about 15 million Americans should get CT scanning under its updated recommendation, from about eight million previously.

TN-RDAC To Inform TennCARE On Pharmaceutical Treatments

Walker County To Host Blood Drive To Answer The Call For Donations

Paul Fridenstine Named Chief Financial Officer Of Parkridge Valley, Parkridge West Hospital And Parkridge North ER


The newly formed Tennessee Rare Disease Advisory Council or TN-RDAC (pronounced AHR-dak) has set its priorities to advocate for Tennesseans diagnosed with rare diseases, including advising TennCare’s ... (click for more)

Walker County residents are being asked to make a lifesaving donation this month. On Wednesday, May 26, Walker County Government will host a community blood drive to help answer the call for ... (click for more)

Paul Fridenstine has been named chief financial officer (CFO) of Parkridge West Hospital, Parkridge North ER and the four-campus Parkridge Valley behavioral health system. In this role, Fridenstine ... (click for more)



Living Well

TN-RDAC To Inform TennCARE On Pharmaceutical Treatments

The newly formed Tennessee Rare Disease Advisory Council or TN-RDAC (pronounced AHR-dak) has set its priorities to advocate for Tennesseans diagnosed with rare diseases, including advising TennCare’s Pharmacy Advisory Committee and Drug Utilization Review Committee on pharmaceutical treatments, as well as identifying the overall impact of rare diseases on Tennesseans. Created ... (click for more)

Walker County To Host Blood Drive To Answer The Call For Donations

Walker County residents are being asked to make a lifesaving donation this month. On Wednesday, May 26, Walker County Government will host a community blood drive to help answer the call for blood donations leading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The drive will run from 1-5 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center, 10052 Hwy. 27 in Rock Spring. Donors can schedule an ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Boyd Raises Issue Of Pinkston Raises To A Staff Member He Married And Hiring Her Brother; DA Says, "I Have Done Nothing Wrong"

County Commissioner Tim Boyd has questioned District Attorney Neal Pinkston on the issue of relatives in his office. He released an email he received that was critical of DA Pinkston giving allegedly excessive raises to a top staff member that he married and for hiring her brother. At budget hearings, he asked DA Pinkston whether he had any relatives on the county payroll. ... (click for more)

2 Killed, 1 Injured In Shooting Wednesday Night On Ridgeside Road

DeQuan Paris, 25, and LaRome Ridley, 20, were killed and a 29-year-old man was injured in a shooting on Ridgeside Road Wednesday evening. The two men who died are brothers. They have two other brothers. Their mother, Amanda Del “Rat” Paris, died last Dec. 3 at age 39. Chattanooga Police responded to the 3600 block of Ridgeside Road on a report of a person shot at approximately ... (click for more)

Opinion

Please Stop Calling Us “Latinx”

We’re asking nicely, because we think the use of the term has been mostly well-intentioned. But let’s start with some numbers: a mere 3 percent of Americans of Latin-American descent use “Latinx” to describe themselves. This is based on a 2020 Pew Research poll of about 3,000 American Latinos. Those who want for “Latinx” to become the default say it’s preferable because it’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Earn Life's "Free Lunches"

The worst debacle in our nation’s history, it is beginning to be proven, was when the United States was quarantined during the COVID-19 epidemic. Our economy – from employment to production – was stymied. Our next generation responded with virtually no education for an entire year and a surging teen suicide epidemic and the biggest profits that were made in the second half of 2020 ... (click for more)