Although research has shown that smokers who get lung scans are twice as likely to quit smoking as individuals who do not get a scan, under current medical guidelines patients are rarely referred for CT lung scans.

“I’ve seen it happen here at our center, and there are studies that clearly back up our experience,” says Marc Kahn, MD, medical director of EBT Heart & Body Imaging in Detroit. “Patients make a direct, visual connection between their lungs and their health. It’s a big motivator, and can serve as a wake-up call to quit smoking and cut the risk of lung cancer and other diseases.”

To get images of patients’ lungs, Kahn’s center in Detroit exclusively uses electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) — the only proven method of detecting early plaque buildup in the coronary arteries. An EBCT scan is usually only conducted with a physician’s referral or because a patient has a particular concern regarding their lungs.

“Published clinical trials have shown that by screening all smokers, cure rates can be as high as 95%, but lung cancer is still the only major cancer for which screening is not encouraged, even among those at high risk,” says Kahn.