WASHINGTON, DC – November 6, 2022 – A recent American Lung Association study found that almost 95% of eligible at-risk people did not receive a screening CT scan for lung cancer. This is a much higher level of nonparticipation than cancer screenings for cervical, breast and colorectal. Lung cancer is the most-deadly cancer in the United States. Most are discovered after the tumor has spread past the point of being cured with treatment. Cancer screening tests are at no cost to patients under the Affordable Care Act.
The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is a low-dose CT scan. It is painless and only takes a few minutes to perform. These tests are only available by prescription. Primary care physicians need to be aware of their patient’s complete smoking history because there is a strong risk of association between smoking history and lung cancer. The screening test is performed on at-risk people, before a person has any symptoms or diagnosis of the disease. Treatment can be started earlier when an early diagnosis is made. Therefore, early diagnosis through screening is more likely to reduce the severity of the disease.
The rate of survival at five-years for this deadly disease has increased to more than 25% from 15%. According to a 2011 National Lung Screening Trial, lung cancer screening has resulted in a 20% reduction of mortality. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the CDC have recommended a lung cancer screening CT scan since 2014. In 2021, the screening criteria were modified to increase the number of eligible people because of disparities in the mortality rates by race. Now, persons are eligible for the screening if they have smoked the equivalent of at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, quit within the past 15 years and are between the ages 50 to 80 years old.
Kentucky has the highest incidence of lung cancer and mortality rates in the U.S. and the second highest smoking rate. Its screening rate has increased to 13%, well above the national average. The improvement has been credited to the state chapter of the American Lung Association partnering with universities and other cancer organizations in the state. The coalition has educated providers and patients about the importance of lung cancer screenings. Additionally, the Kentucky state legislature passed a bill that requires an annual report on screening rates in order to promote the availability of screening throughout the state.
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Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com