[Reblog] False Positives and Real Dollars: Why $88 won’t effectively screen for lung cancer
On a related note, during Peace Corps training in Nashville (1979) I came down with a bad cough, often coughing for 5-10 minutes at a time. Don’t think the rainy weather and me going around with an umbrella or raincoat helped. Anyways, was sent to an area doctor and after a few tests, told me and the Peace Corps staff not to be concerned. Just a dormant fungus (and I do live a bit north of the Ohio River Valley). Anyways, after a few days in Monrovia, Liberia (6 am temps of about 85), I stopped coughing.
PS We were boarded in motels. One late night was awakened by a few young men in the group coughing loudly and giggling outside my window. Chalk it up now to some late night drinking and the men still being, well, young.
On another note, my husband quit smoking back in the 80’s after about 25 years of smoking. He had a lung X-ray and a dark spot on the lungs was noticed. He had quit smoking the month before. So now I’m wondering…cancer or fungus? He has not had any firm diagnosis of cancer since.
Beschreibung: Konventionelles Röntgenbild des Thorax (der Lunge) mit rundlicher Verdichtung in der linken Lunge Quelle: selbst erstellt –Benutzer:Lange123 17:18, 11. Nov. 2004 (CEST) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
From the 9 February 2015 article By MATT HAWKINS, MD at The Health Care Blog
…Histoplasma capsulatum is a fungus endemic to the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. It is everywhere. You get it by breathing. Prior studies suggest that >80% of those living in these regions have contracted the fungus. The majority of people with histo don’t get sick. But – they get lung nodules. Lots of them. The nodules are benign but often indistinguishable on imaging from “early” lung cancer.
The entrepreneurial owners of the pictured urgent care center likely know this. They also know that Medicare and other carriers have limited coverage (reasonably so) to patients between the ages of 55 and 74 with at least a 30 pack year history of smoking. If patients have quit smoking, they must have quit within 15 years to be eligible for coverage. At first glance, it may seem like offering cheap, $88 screening for Americans ineligible for lung cancer screening coverage, or those eligible citizens too busy to get a physician order for a screening exam, is a good deed. But, $88 is just the tip of the iceberg. Additional screening exams and subsequent procedures/biopsies will all incur additional costs.
Our collective fear of malignancy, the unfortunately high frequency of lung cancer, and the promise of low dose CT screening for this disease will drive people outside of the NLST’s strict inclusion criteria into these low-cost, high-volume CT-scanning conveyor belts to “catch the cancer early.”
And what will they find in the Ohio River Valley?
Lots and lots of lung nodules.
The markedly increased propensity of patients in this region to have pulmonary nodules is likely to lead to an increased number of image-guided and open surgical biopsies (when the image-guided biopsy provides insufficient tissue for analysis). More invasive procedures will naturally lead to more cost-inducing complications (such as pneumothorax and pulmonary hemorrhage) and, in some instances, death.
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