December 1 2020 – The American Lung Association’s 3rd Annual "State of Lung Cancer" report once again reinforced the need for early lung cancer screening, which better enables an early diagnosis and better long-term outcomes. As with many other types, lung cancer is most curable when detected early.
It’s estimated that of the eight million people recommended for screening because they are at high risk for lung cancer, only 5.7% were screened in 2019. That does not bode well for 2020, when screenings and routine tests have been impacted by COVID-19.
“People are not scheduling appointments for cancer detection screenings, and in the case of lung cancer, that can have dire, if not deadly, consequences,” said Dennis Tishko, M.D., director of thoracic oncology at Broward Health. “While lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women, the good news is that lung cancer survival rates continue to increase. But that is only possible with early detection.”
At particular risk are people of color. This year’s State of Lung Cancer report for the first time explored lung cancer among racial and ethnic minority groups. Unfortunately, people of color diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans for several reasons. According to the report, they are less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment and more likely to not receive any treatment.
“Lung cancer screenings and an early diagnosis can save your life, especially if you have risk factors,” said Tishko. “A low-dose CT screening of the lungs can help identify lung cancer at an early stage, when it can be cured. We cannot stress enough the importance of a healthy lifestyle and keeping current with routine tests and procedures.”
Lung cancer is detected using a high-speed, low-dose CT scan that is remarkably effective at finding these cancers. If caught early, that means the cancer is small and can generally be surgically removed.
Someone who has lung cancer may have no signs or symptoms. However, anyone between the ages of 55 and 77 who is a smoker, has quit within the last 15 years or has a history of smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years is considered at risk and should talk to their physician about a CT lung screening.
A Broward Health Nurse Connect representative can perform the initial screening for all patients who call the 954-355-LUNG line or patients can qualify from taking the online assessment at BrowardHealth.org/LungCancer.
Patients that meet the criteria for the lung cancer CT screening will be instructed to receive a prescription from their provider. If a patient is uninsured, the Nurse Connect representative will attempt to schedule the patient with a Broward Health Community Health Services primary care provider or other community healthcare provider of choice.
With a prescription, eligible patients can receive a CT lung screening at Broward Health locations. Low-dose CT lung screenings are covered by Medicare and most insurances for those who qualify for a screening. Non-insured patients may qualify for a $99 screening. For more information, call 954-355-LUNG (5864) or visit BrowardHealth.org/LungCancer.