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Few take advantage of new lung cancer screening


Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths for both women and men, with more than 3,000 new diagnoses in Oregon estimated for 2018 alone. However, newly available lung cancer screening helps diagnose the disease in the earliest stages when it’s most curable.

During November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the American Lung Association highlights the fact that lung cancer screening has the potential to save thousands of lives.

“If lung cancer is detected before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves to 56 percent,” said Cathy Gidley, executive director for the American Lung Association in Oregon. “People need to know their risk factors and speak with their doctor if they’re concerned.”

In Oregon, only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are caught early, when survival is much higher. According to the Lung Association, if the 8 million Americans eligible were screened, an estimated 25,000 lives would be saved.

While screening is available at no cost through Medicare and most insurance plans, less than 5 percent of those eligible are getting screened. Screening is recommended for those who:

Are be t wee n t h e age s o f 55 – 8 0 an d cu rr en tly smoke , o r qu it w it h in t h e l as t 1 5 yea r s , an d smoke d t h e equ i va l en t o f 3 0 ” pac k yea r s ” (1 pac k a da y f o r 3 0 yea r s , 2 pack s f o r 1 5 yea r s , e t c .) Through the LUNG FORCE Initiative and a partnership with the Ad Council, the American Lung Association is raising awareness of screening with the first-of-its-kind public awareness campaign ” Saved By The Scan .” The campaign encourages current and former smokers to talk to their doctor about their risk and take an online eligibility quiz at . The “Saved By The Scan” quiz has helped more than 137,000 Americans learn about their risk for lung cancer.

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.

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