I was at a meeting at the hospital yesterday and had a conversation with one of the senior physicians. I hope that when he reads this article, he does not take offense at the description, after all, I hold the same title as well. He remarked that he was listening to my latest radio broadcast, The Buzz with Dr. Z, which is on WRTA every third Tuesday at 2:00 pm. He had a suggestion that I talk about lung cancer screening, and I was slightly surprised. As a pulmonary physician I guess I thought everyone knew about the need for lung cancer screening.

Lung cancer accounts for more deaths in the United States than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined. Screening rates of mammography for breast cancer, PAP testing for cervical cancer and colonoscopy/fecal immunochemical testing range from about 60% to 80% in the US.

The results from the National Lung Screening Trial which showed that screening patients at risk for lung cancer annually with a cat scan of the chest were published in 2011. Yet despite the increased in mortality from lung cancer over breast, colorectal and prostate only 5% of the eligible patients are being screened.

If you are between the ages of 50 and 80 and have smoked at least 20 years and have not quit within the last 15 years you should be screened on an annual basis to reduce your mortality risk from lung cancer by at least 20%. Thanks for the suggestion, Doc.