New Lung Cancer Screening Tool Offers Hope Of Early Detection

(October 28, 2013)

SAINT PAUL, MINN. – Unlike mammography for breast cancer or colonoscopy for colon cancer, the federal government has never recommendations on lung cancer screening--until now.  Lung cancer is one the deadliest types of cancer, killing thousands of Minnesotans every year.  Because the disease often shows no symptom until it is in an advanced stage, finding a way to detect lung cancer early has long been sought, especially for people at higher risk of developing the disease.

By screening at-risk individuals, the medical community believes it could prevent as many as 3,000 to 4,000 deaths nationwide a year. The first step is determining who should receive the screening. In November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the American Lung Association has launched an online tool to identify potential candidates.

LungCancerScreeningSavesLives.org takes visitors through a series of questions that helps determine whether they meet the guidelines for a low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer. After completing the online assessment, visitors should consult with their healthcare provider for further discussion and action. Screening is recommended for individuals who meet the criteria of the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Cancer Screening Trial.

“The American Lung Association has been fighting to prevent lung cancer for more than half a century,” said Penny Gottier Fena, executive director of the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “Finding and treating this disease at its earliest stages will offer more people a chance to beat lung cancer.”

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently proposed annual low-dose CT screening for individuals at high risk for lung cancer; an estimated nine million Americans. This includes current or former smokers, ages 55-79, who smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years and have smoked within the past 15 years. If approved, the screenings would be covered by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act may also require many health insurance companies to provide the test for free.

In addition to the online lung cancer screening assessment tool, the American Lung Association provides several resources for lung cancer patients and their caregivers, including: Facing Lung Cancer from Day One, an online tool with valuable educational and supportive resources; and the Lung Connection, an online community for people living with lung disease. The Lung HelpLine can also answer questions about lung health or CT screenings; calls are toll-free at 1-800-LUNG-USA.