A study of over 4,000 British patients who were in the high risk category from lung cancer found that having patients undergo a lung CT scan was an effective way to get them to quit. Half of the patients in the study were placed either in a control group where they received regular care or in a group that received a low-dose CT scan. In a low-dose CT scan, the patient enters an X-ray machine that takes continuous image ‘slices’ of the inside of their chest where the chest can be viewed as a 3D image. The physician then uses the scan results as a teaching moment about their health and behavior, especially if they have a positive result. 10% of the smokers who received a screening successfully quit after 2 weeks and 15% quit after 2 years.
Even patients that did not have abnormal results from their screenings were likely to quit. They did not see their negative results as a get-out-of-jail- free card. The data did not mention if patients seeing lung damage on their scans were largely responsible for patients quitting or if it was due to physicians sitting down with their patients to discuss cessation options. Was having a positive test sobering enough or did they need the extra push from the educational intervention? It would be valuable to implement a study like this on American patients to see if it yields similar results.
If you are a current or former smoker, have been exposed to asbestos, radon, or toxic chemicals in the workplace, or have a family history at lung cancer, you should consider getting a lung screening. Make an appointment with Witham’s Cancer Institute today.