From January 1, 2022, GPs will target heavy smokers over 55 in their surgeries and recommend free lung screening. Smokers are at risk of lung cancer, a disease that is overwhelmingly only discovered when it is too late. The disease kills around five thousand people a year in the Czech Republic.
“Despite Covid, we are preparing a universal screening for lung cancer in the Czech population. We will start it on January 1, and we will not postpone it, even though the pandemic will probably torment us even more than now, “said Martina Koziar Vašáková, chairwoman of the Czech Pneumatological Society and deputy health minister for health care.
“The incidence of lung cancer is increasing in the Czech Republic, and this is especially true for women. Previously, the incidence was higher in men because they smoked more. Today, it is rising in women and not decreasing in men, ” Vašáková stated. People who end up under the hands of lung oncologists are not older. “They are very often middle-aged, productive people, but we usually see them only in the third-fourth stage of the disease, which is too late,” the pulmonologist warns.
While a person who comes to the doctor with stage one lung cancer has a 60% chance of surviving, in stage four, when the tumor has already spread to other organs, the survival chance is zero; every patient dies. But stage one tumors are usually discovered by accident. “Only 15% of those diagnosed survive for five years, which is tragic. For 85% of patients, this diagnosis is a death sentence. Screening would reduce that number by a quarter, “she predicted.
GPs will identify people aged 55 to 75 who smoke at least 20 cigarettes a day and refer them to lung doctors and CT scans from January. According to Vašáková, the screening should cover about half a million people and aims to catch the tumor when it has not yet manifested itself but is still operable.
“Stop smoking, and if you are, get screened. There is a better chance that you will survive lung cancer, ” Vašáková advised.