It is called Smoker Health Multiple Action and is the screening program developed in Humanitas by Dr. Giulia Veronesi, head of Robotic Thoracic Surgery at the Institute of Rozzano, for the prevention and early diagnosis of various cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases caused by smoking. The screening program has been created thanks to the collaboration of the Ministry of Health, the Veronesi Foundation, AIRC.
Dr. Veronesi spoke about the SMAC screening protocol during an interview, recalling that there are 25 diseases for which smoking is directly responsible, many of which are lethal, but despite the scientific evidence proving more and more convincingly the risks to health, there are still 12.2 million smokers in Italy, or 20% of the population.
SMAC: what it is and who is it targeting
“The Smokers Health Multiple Actions prevention program is aimed at smokers, or ex-smokers over the age of 50, who have a smoking history of at least 30 years and are therefore at high risk,” explained Veronesi.
“Those who qualify to participate are subjected to a blood test, a spirometry to assess their breathing capacity and participate in an interview with the experts of the Humanitas anti-smoking center. Then a low-dose CT scan is carried out on the patient, to check for the presence of suspected pulmonary nodules and assess the calcification of the coronary arteries”.
An algorithm for a personalized prevention report
After having carried out all the analyses required, thanks to an algorithm developed by the team of Dr. Veronesi “we can draw up a personalized prevention report that offers specific indications on the changes that are necessary for the lifestyle, on any drug therapies based on statins or suggest other investigations to be carried out”.
First results of the project
To date, 900 patients have adhered to the SMAC screening protocol and in 23 cases, representing 2.6% of patients, a tumor has been identified that had not yet shown symptoms. “Thanks to this screening, we were able to intervene early, when the tumor was still operable,” said Veronesi. Often, in fact, patients arrive when the tumor has already occurred and there is less chance of recovery.
“These results show us how important it is, also at the level of the National Health System, to design and promote large-scale lung screening. In the United States it is already a widespread reality, while in Europe we are a little behind on this, but from this year the Ministry of Health has started a working group to promote this field of prevention”.