Smoking causes nearly 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States. Recent medical recommendations are expected to dramatically increase the number of heavy smokers who undergo annual screening for lung cancer. These screening appointments are an important point in which clinicians and other members of the health care team can help patients with the behavior that, after all, made them go for tests.
And so the question is not whether clinicians should help people who are screened for lung cancer to stop smoking. Rather, the question is what is best to help them quit.
NCI has published a funding announcement to help answer this question by stimulating research into optimal methods to quit cigarettes that are delivered along with screenings.
The US Preventive Services Brigade (USPSTF) now recommends that current or former heavy smokers from the age of 55 to 80 be screened for lung cancer with low-dose spiral computed tomography (LDCT). Under the Affordable Care Act, USPSTF grade A or B prevention recommendations (such as the recommendations for lung cancer screening with low-dose spiral computed tomography) should cover all Private health insurance plans.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently changed their coverage for lung cancer screening based on the results of the NCI National Lung Examination Survey, which showed that CT scanning Low dose were associated with a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality among heavy smokers.
Unfortunately, it is no longer a universal component of cancer screening programs that smoking cessation counseling is provided to individuals who smoke. And while traditional smoking cessation literature or tips may be available, it is unclear what the best method for LDCT clinics to help with this particular group is to stop smoking, regardless of its screening test results.
According to this Request for Proposals (RFA), the NCI intends to contribute USD 4.5 million in fiscal year 2016 to fund up to 6 grants. Studies funded by these grants will evaluate the components and key characteristics of an effective cessation intervention that is delivered together with a screening appointment or optimal strategies for incorporating existing smoking cessation interventions that are based on Evidence within a variety of LDCT testing situations, from large academic hospitals to community health centers.
As the program manager of this research initiative, I will be conducting a teleconference for prospective researchers on 4 August at 2:00 pm ET. In addition, we have designed a website to answer the frequently asked questions about this RFP. The instructions for the teleconference are on the website.
Regardless of how long someone has been smoking, quitting immediately lowers their risk. And we know that lung cancer screening provides a critical opportunity to deliver smoking cessation services to current smokers. By supporting these grants, NCI hopes to identify feasible methods of providing these services, helping as many people as possible to lower their cancer risk.
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