As I’ve reported before, we know how to cut death rates for the nation’s No. 1 cancer killer by a whopping 20 percent with annual CT scans. In fact, if all at-risk patients got this new safe and effective CT scan, we’d save thousands of lives. I believe it’s the best real advancement in cancer screening we’ve seen in the last 50 years. But despite solid evidence, most doctors in the U.S. still don’t order it.
It doesn’t help that science bureaucrats at the National Cancer Institute initially ridiculed and dismissed the new scan because it has a defined rate of false positives and false negatives (like every other test known to medical science). The rates of false positive and false negatives of the lung cancer scan are no worse than most other popular tests and cancer screenings (and better than many).
Ironically, these same science bureaucrats relentlessly push other “approved” cancer screenings that don’t prevent cancer deaths (mammography). And some other “approved” screenings (colonoscopy) incur unacceptable risks and expenses in light of available alternatives.
New CT screening does prevent lung cancer deaths
According to scientifically established criteria, we should screen as many as 35 million people in the U.S. for lung cancer today with the new CT scan. Taking this step would reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent and overall deaths by seven percent. By comparison, mammography reduces breast cancer deaths by zero percent. (They’ve even stopped performing routine screening mammography in places like Canada, Norway and Switzerland.)
Medicare and Medicaid now cover the new screening for those at high-risk. And the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force now recommends it. Plus, high-quality studies published in authoritative sources like the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine show it reduces cancer deaths
However, there’s still a big disconnect in medical practice. Doctors don’t widely recommend it for high-risk patients. In fact, fewer than five percent of those with the highest risk of lung cancer have been screened since this test was scientifically verified six years ago.
Even veterans can’t get lifesaving scan
They concluded that adding lung cancer CT screening was “impractical” because it involved “obstacles,” like developing new procedures, clinical co-ordination, and training. (Gee, where I come from, overcoming “obstacles” is simply a part of providing routine healthcare services. Apparently, providing routine care is too much for the VA.)
In the end, this VA “demonstration project” just demonstrated to me what we already know: VA administrators are scandalously incompetent and lazy.
Hopefully the recent, long overdue reforms, finally being carried out by the new physician head of the VA will make decent healthcare available to our veterans with all the billions of tax dollars provided to this organization.
Political bias against lung cancer patients
When you look at all the evidence supporting widespread implementation of this preventative scan, I can only conclude it’s yet another example of blatant bias and discrimination against lung cancer victims.
But the government’s policies don’t just discriminate against people who smoke. They also harm former smokers. And even the many forgotten victims of lung cancer who never smoked a day in their lives.
Think about it…what does the government offer these victims other than smoking cessation? After most of these high-risk victims have already quit. Or never started!
In addition, the same politically correct nitwits who discriminate against the faintest whiff of tobacco smoke fall all over themselves to embrace the smoke of marijuana, another burning plant leaf. As I reported on Monday of this week, smoking marijuana causes disastrous consequences, including cognitive, physical and mental health problems in adults, adolescents and children.
Fortunately, my colleague, George Lundberg (former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and founding editor of Medscape), believes some doctors “in the know” are now trying to draw more attention to the new CT lung cancer screening technique. Dr. Lundberg’s recent posting about lung cancer screening states, “the facts are clear and unusually well established.”
If you have any family history of cancer, have been exposed to air pollution, or smoke from any burning plant, try to find one of these doctors “in the know.” And ask them about getting a screening for lung cancer. It can, and does, save lives.
“Implementation of Lung Cancer Screening in the Veterans Health Administration,” JAMA Internal Medicine 2017: 177(3): 399-406
“Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening” NEJM 2011: 365(5): 395-409