Tobacco smoke is the most important cause of death avoidable in high-income countries, including Italy: today around the world there are 6 million deaths caused by smoking every year, which will rise to 8 million by 2030. In addition to increasing the risk of emphysema, stroke and heart attack, the tobacco smoke is the main culprit of the 41,000 new cases of lung cancer which are diagnosed every year in our country. And sadly, these lesions are not always discovered early, although early diagnosis is a key factor in the success of the treatment. How to shorten the time? An answer may come from a pilot program for the prevention and early diagnosis of this disease in heavy smokers and former heavy smokers. It involves 18 centers in Italy and is coordinated by the RISP – Italian Pulmonary Screening Network.
Who is the initiative for?
The free program of lung screening is aimed at all citizens, men and women, aged between 55 and 75, who have not had cancer in the last 5 years and who are heavy smokers (at least 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years or 40 cigarettes a day for 15 years) or former heavy smokers for 15 years or less (at least 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years or 40 cigarettes a day for 15 years).
“The RISP program will recruit in Italy, over a period of 18-24 months, about 7,300 heavy smokers at high risk of lung cancer, other cancers and chronic cardio-pulmonary pathology, who can benefit more from an integrated prevention intervention for all the diseases caused by smoking – explains Ugo Pastorino, Director of the Complex Structure of Thoracic Surgery, IRCCS Foundation National Cancer Institute of Milan – based on the risk range, a personalized prevention program will be offered, which includes, for those who wish, the cessation of smoking with a drug natural and subsequent CT checks at different annual intervals “.
The vast majority of lung cancers (about 80%) are detected already at an advanced stage: early diagnosis it is essential to reduce the risk of death and improve prognosis. Studies have confirmed that low-dose spiral CT screening can be lifesaving.
“Lung cancer in Italy represents the first cause of death in men and is the second-third cause of death in women, in which, among other things, cases are constantly increasing – says Giorgio Vittorio Scagliotti, Full Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Turin and Director of the Complex Structure of Medical Oncology, AOU San Luigi Gonzaga – With this pulmonary screening program in heavy smokers we can identify the disease in the initial stage in 60% -70% of cases, where the surgical possibilities are decidedly higher and where the 5-year survival can reach 60% -70% “.
More attention to prevention
The pilot program aims to act on two levels of prevention: the secondary one, with screening and early diagnosis, but also the primary one, that is the habit of smoking. A mission in line with the activity of WALCE Onlus – Women Against Lung Cancer in Europe, which for more than 10 years has invested human and economic resources in designing and conducting personalized primary prevention programs.
“Prevention, primary and secondaryshould be the basis of every communication in the oncology field, before diagnostic and therapeutic innovations, because it represents the most effective way to have a significant impact on incidence and mortality – explains Silvia Novello, Full Professor of Medical Oncology, Department of Oncology, University degli Studi di Torino, Head of the Pulmonary Oncology SSD, AOU San Luigi Gonzaga and President of WALCE onlus – for WALCE Onlus, whose registered office is within one of the 18 centers selected by the Ministry, it was a natural step to take charge the communication of the lung screening program to other Associations and to the population, using pre-established networks and channels, with the preparation of ad hoc, generic, gender oriented and center-specific material “.
The exam you are using
The spiral CT scan at low doses it is the test of choice in the lung screening program. “This type of CT scan is, first of all, at low doses of radiation, less than a quarter of those of a standard CT, and therefore potentially less harmful for the patient who undergoes it – says Andrea Veltri, Director of SCDU Radiodiagnostica, AOU San Luigi Gonzaga – moreover, it comes to a very sensitive testwhich allows us to identify the largest number of early stage tumors, with dimensions of less than one centimeter, and therefore treatable.
The pulmonary screening program represents an important opportunity in offering the smoker an important opportunity to take stock of the situation relating to their state of health, with the possibility of undertaking a smoking cessation process in a specialist center. To participate in the program, the person concerned can connect to the programmarisp.it site, fill in the form with personal data and select the reference center.