A recent study showed that if CT scans of smokers were performed, this would reduce their chances of dying from lung cancer – a disease that claims 160,000 lives each year – by 20%.
However the study ignored the golden rule of prevention being better than cure – that if there were effective strategies in place to prevent people from smoking, these would be so much more effective.
While every smoker who refuses to quit will likely tell you a story about someone who never smoked and yet got lung cancer, it is a fact that 87% of lung cancers are caused by smoking. CT scans may be an effective diagnostic tool but they neither prevent nor cure those lung cancers.
If smoking itself could be curbed, this could have so many more positive repercussions than just the prevention of lung cancer – not smoking can reduce risk of stroke, infertility, emphysema, heart disease and even cancers other than lung cancer.
From purely practical point of view as well, prevention is cheaper than cure. It is cheaper to invest in smoking prevention and cessation, rather than actually treating lung cancer.
The estimated annual cost of performing CT scans for the 100 million smokers in the United States would be about $30 billion; while programs geared for smoking prevention will cost significantly less!