MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The United States Preventative Services Task Force recently recommended an early detection screening for lung cancer.
The federal recommendation could lead to insurance companies paying for CT scans for heavy smokers.
Medical Center of Central Georgia Director of Oncology Services, Nancy White says the recommendation is a "breakthrough" for chain smokers.
"There is a higher incident of smoking in the Middle Georgia area and there is a higher prevalence of lung cancer deaths," said Nancy White, Director of Oncology Services. "I really hope this screening catches on it only cost $150."
To be eligible for the screening smokers must be between the ages of 55 to 79, and have smoked a pack a day for more than 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
The procedure takes about five to seven minutes. Patients are placed on the bed and fed through the gantry which is the round doughnut shape of the machine.
"The best thing about having this machine is the ability to see the body parts in thin slices very similar to the way you would see them in an autopsy," said Eddie Coker, MCCG Director of Control Diagnostic. "Only we can do it actually on a living individual."
MCCG has been offering lung cancer screening for more than a year. However, it is not covered by Medicare or private insurance companies.
If the lung cancer recommendation is approved under the affordable care act the screenings will be covered and without a co-pay.
"A study of 50,000 heavy smokers has confirmed that lung CT scan reduces the mortality rate of lung cancer by over 20 percent compared to traditional X-ray and this is a breakthrough," added White. "It's the first time there really has been a screening for lung cancer."