It’s called “SMAC“, which stands for Smokers Health Multiple Actions. This project was launched in September 2018 by a team of experts, including Dr. Giulia Veronesi, Head of the Robotic Thoracic Surgery Section of the Humanitas Clinical Institute, with the aim of promptly diagnosing lung and cardiovascular diseases in heavy smokers. We talked about it with the specialist, who recalled how smoking alone is responsible for twenty-five diseases, often fatal, and how it increases the risk of stroke by up to twice.
Smoking and nutrition, the pillars of prevention
“There is a lot of talking about healthy eating but it seems we forget that smoking is one of the first causes of death in the world – said the specialist of Humanitas -. Smoking is the main risk factor not only with regard to lung cancer, but also for various cardiovascular diseases”.
Unfortunately, there are still many people who, despite the known risks, do not quit using cigarettes: despite the scientific evidence, in fact, about 20% of the population continues to smoke. “This is essentially due to the fact that smokers have a very low perception of risk, despite information campaigns and bans. This is why last September Dr. Veronesi, together with a team of experts, launched the project “SMAC – Smokers Health Multiple Actions”.
To whom is the project addressed?
“SMAC is a program for the prevention and early diagnosis of smoking-related diseases,” continued the specialist. This program is aimed at smokers, or ex-smokers over the age of 50, who have a history of smoking of at least 30 years, i.e. high-risk individuals.
So far, there have been a total of 900 participants and in 23 cases (2.6%) a tumor has been identified which has not yet given symptoms, allowing operators to intervene early, when the disease is still operable.
“Often the patients arrive when the tumor has already occurred and therefore the chances of recovery are lower – added the specialist – . The first results of the project, which has been active for less than a year, show us how important it is to promote large-scale lung screening, an action which in Europe is still done with little conviction despite the great effectiveness demonstrated by the numbers”.
Examinations and interviews with the experts at the smoke-free centre
Those who join the program are subjected to a blood sample and spirometry to assess respiratory function. The diagnostic tests are followed by an interview with experts from the anti-smoking centre and a low-dose CT scan, with the aim of both highlighting suspect lung nodules and assessing coronary calcifications.
“The promotion of a large-scale screening, as they have been doing in the U.S. for some time now, is essential – concluded the specialist, who recalled that thanks to prevention you can heal -. An algorithm allows us to draw up a personalized prevention report, which offers specific indications on the changes that are necessary in lifestyle, on any drug therapies based on statins, or other tests to be carried out”.
How to participate in the program?
To subscribe to the SMAC program, simply send an email to email@example.com. Doctors will assess the patient’s suitability.
These first results of the SMAC project show us how important it is, even at the level of the National Health System, to promote large-scale lung screening, a reality that, for example, is now established in the United States. Unfortunately in Europe we are a little behind on this aspect of prevention, but this year the Ministry of Health has launched a working group to promote initiatives in this field.