The American Lung Association highlights screening during Lung Cancer Awareness Month

From American Lung Association 

MISSOULA — Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S., but there is hope against this deadly disease thanks to early detection screening that can save thousands.

According to the Lung Association, if the 8 million Americans eligible were screened, an estimated 25,000 lives would be saved. Less than five percent of those eligible are currently getting screened. Screening is comprised of a low-dose CT scan and is recommended for those who meet the following criteria:

• Are between the ages of 55-80 and currently smoke, or quit within the last 15 years, and smoked the equivalent of 30 “pack years” (one pack a day for 30 years, two packs for 15 years, etc.)

“We know that an estimated 800 Montanans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Montana. “Awareness about lung cancer and the availability of screening for high-risk populations is key to detecting lung cancer early, when more treatment options are available. Screening is more than just a tool – it’s a way to save the lives of people in our community.”

Even with the promise of screening, the Lung Association also continues to push for better treatment options and new methods of early detection for the disease, noting that screening is currently recommended only for select current and former smokers, yet there are a variety of risk factors associated with lung cancer, including exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke and air pollution as well as genetic factors and sometimes the causes of lung cancer are unknown.

“Screening saves lives, but too many people are diagnosed with lung cancer by chance, and too late,” said Nyssen. “We need better methods of early detection so we can catch the disease in the early stages when the survival rate is higher. Research funding is critical to make this a reality for those at risk for lung cancer.”

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