SIOUX FALLS — During November for Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the American Lung Association in South Dakota encourages people who are at risk for lung cancer to take a screening eligibility quiz at SavedByTheScan.org. To date, 137,000 Americans have taken the test to learn about their risk for lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer deaths for both women and men, with 650 new diagnosis in South Dakota estimated in 2018 alone. Lung cancer screening helps diagnose the disease in the earliest stages when it is most curable, however, less than five percent of people at high risk for lung cancer have been screened. According to the Lung Association, if the eight million Americans eligible were screened, an estimated 25,000 lives would be saved.
“Screening for the disease can make all the difference, and if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves to 56 percent,” said Reba Mathern-Jacobson, health promotions for the Lung Association. “We must ensure that people are aware of lung cancer and its risk factors, and speak with their doctor if they’re concerned about their risk.”
Screening is recommended for people who 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.).
Through its LUNG FORCE initiative, the American Lung Association works to raise awareness of this screening, including through a partnership with the Ad Council in 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 a short online eligibility quiz at SavedByTheScan.org/quiz.
Since lung cancer screening is relatively new, to ensure that everyone eligible not only knows about screening but also has access to screening, the Lung Association has partnered with the American Thoracic Society to launch the Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide. The Guide helps community hospitals and healthcare systems implement lung cancer screening programs, which will encourage access to lifesaving screening for those who qualify, regardless of where they live.
“We want to make sure that everyone who qualifies for screening knows it’s an option, and that they can access screening in their communities,” said Mathern-Jacobson. “We’re at a pivotal moment in addressing this disease, and we’re working to spread the word about screening as it is literally lifesaving for so many people.”
Visit Lung.org/lung-cancer to learn more about lung cancer, share your experiences with the disease and support lung cancer research.