LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Patients who smoke and have had COVID-19 will soon be eligible for more lung scans.

Timothy Hamilton, cardiothoracic surgeon at Sunrise Hospital, shared new guidelines that will double the amount of annual scans for patients.

Usually lung cancer is diagnosed too late for a good shot at survival. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says anyone between the age of 50-80 who has smoked a pack a day for the last 20 years and either still smokes or quit within the last 15 years is now eligible.  

This will include lighter smokers who, according to some reports, tend to be Black or female.

Dr. Hamilton said this will make it more inclusive, but whether there will be more equity in screenings remain to be seen. Only 15% of those smokers eligible get screened. In comparison, breast cancer, cervical, and colonoscopies have much higher rates at 60-80%.

He said there are “impressive changes” to the lungs in patients with a severe case. He thinks over the next year to three years, we will see patients who will need biopsies with a “tremendous number” of patients needing artificial lungs.

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