Lung cancer remains Nebraska’s top cancer killer, but there’s a new type of lung cancer screening for those people considered at high risk.
The low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer in the early stages, before symptoms arise.
Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, calls the scan groundbreaking and a potential lifesaver.
Wimmer says, “The high risk category profile is individuals who are current smokers or former smokers that have a 30-pack year history of smoking and are between the ages of 55 to 80.” The term, “30-pack year history,” means they’ve smoked an average of one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years.
Studies find 84-percent of lung cancer cases are detected in the late stage when it’s very difficult to treat. When detected earlier, the survival rate is increased by more than five times. Wimmer says anyone can get lung cancer, especially people who smoke and those around them.
“There’s also other risk factors, such as radon exposure, family history, other environmental impacts that can be a risk factor,” Wimmer says, “but the use of tobacco products is still the number-one risk factor for lung cancer.”
In Nebraska, 42-percent of the population is considered “ever smokers,” meaning they’re either current or former smokers, and they may benefit from the scan.
“Individuals can go to SavedByTheScan.org to take a quiz to see if they may fit into that high risk category,” Wimmer says. “We also encourage individuals to talk to their doctor about having this scan done.”
The scan is typically a covered benefit under most insurance plans, according to Wimmer.
There were more than 12-hundred new lung cancer cases diagnosed in Nebraska last year and more than 900 deaths. Nationwide, lung cancer kills an average of 421 people daily, that’s about 18 deaths each hour, or one death every three-and-a-half minutes.