Task Force Recommends Expansion of DOE Program to Other High-Risk Groups
PITTSBURGH, Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The USW said today that it welcomes the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)'s recommendation to expand use of a lung cancer screening that has been available to parts of the union's atomic sector since 2000.
High-risk former nuclear weapons workers from nine Department of Energy (DOE) facilities have access to low-dose CT scans that can detect lung cancer in its early stages. The USPSTF recommendation would expand this type of screening to other high risk individuals.
"The USW represents many workers who are at a high risk of lung cancer, many due to workplace exposure to hazardous substances," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "We will continue to work to eliminate these dangerous workplace conditions, but any time we can also find ways to also integrate lifesaving medical screenings like this for our members is cause for celebration."
Low-dose CT scans have proven effective in the early detection of lung cancer, catching the disease when it is still treatable. Other screening practices catch only 15 percent of early stage lung cancers, and the majority of cases are deadly because the cancer was detected too late.
Broadening the use of the low-dose CT scans will significantly reduce lung cancer fatalities, according to the USPSTF.
"This test is especially important for high risk DOE and other workers who have had combined exposure to occupational carcinogens and cigarette smoke," said Dr. Steven Markowitz, director of the USW co-sponsored Worker Health Protection Program (WHPP).
Since 2000, more than 12,000 nuclear weapons workers nationwide have received free CT scans through the WHPP, a medical screening program funded by the DOE and sponsored by the United Steelworkers in association with Queens College of the City University of New York and the Atomic Trades and Labor Council.
These include USW members at the K-25, Portsmouth and Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plants, the Mound Plant and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). To date, the program has found 96 lung cancers, with the majority at an early stage when treatment is most effective.
Former nuclear weapons workers who meet specific age, smoking, health and occupational criteria may be eligible for the free screening and should call 1-866-228-7226 or visit www.worker-health.org for more information about participating in the WHPP medical screening program.
The USW represents about 850,000 workers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glassmaking to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber to the public sector, service and health care industries.
Jim Frederick, 412-562-2586
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)