Should You Get Screened for Lung Cancer? (Infographic)


Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of men and women in the U.S. It causes more deaths than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. With such a deadly track record, a disease like this shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just this year, it was estimated that 224,210 people were newly diagnosed with lung cancer according to the American Lung Association.

The statistics are dramatic, but there is a silver lining. Survival rates for lung cancer increase with early detection. If the cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate increases to 54 percent. If the cancer is detected once it has spread out of the lungs, survival drops to a staggering 4 percent. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of lung cancers are caught early.

It’s time to change the statistics. The John Stoddard Cancer Center is proud to introduce the Lung Cancer Screening Program.

“The National Lung Cancer Screening trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 29, 2011, showed that by screening a high-risk population for lung cancer, mortality decreased by 20 percent. For the first time, we have shown that screening a particular, high-risk population has a mortality benefit. This was the main reason for starting this program.” 

- Andrew D. Nish, M.D. of Iowa Radiology P.C.

This screening can find possible cancer in the lungs of someone who doesn’t otherwise have any lung cancer symptoms. It is possible that 4 out of 5 lung cancers could be curable if detected early before lung cancer symptoms occur. Out of every 100 people screened, only one will be found to have lung cancer. 

How does the lung cancer screening work?

The process of getting screened for lung cancer doesn’t require any needles or medications. It takes less than 10 seconds, and the only physical requirement is that you can hold your breath for at least six seconds. Your chest will be scanned with a low dose CT (LDCT), or a particular type of X-ray, and you do not have to change your clothes as long as you do not have any metal on your shirt.

Lung Cancer Screening Quiz | John Stoddard Cancer Center

Should I get screened?

The John Stoddard Cancer Center recommends that individuals with the following qualifications receive yearly lung cancer screenings:

  • Adult 55-74 years old

  • Asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms of lung cancer)

  • Greater than a 30 pack-year history of smoking (number of packs per day x number of years smoked = 30)

  • Current smoker, or have quit in the past 15 years

Below are several other questions that you should consider when deciding whether or not you should be screened for lung cancer:

High-Risk Questions

  • Are you a current smoker?

  • Are you between the ages of 55 and 80?

  • Do you have a smoking history of 30 pack-years (number of packs per day x number of years smoked = 30)?

If you answered yes to any combination of these questions, you should get screened for lung cancer. Smoking causes 80 percent of lung cancers in women and 90 percent of lung cancers in men.

General Risk Questions

  • Have you ever been exposed to radon?

  • Have you ever been exposed to other carcinogens like silica, asbestos or arsenic?

  • Have you been around large amounts of air pollution?

  • Have you had cancer previously?

  • Do you have a family history of lung cancer?

  • Do you have COPD or pulmonary fibrosis?

  • Are you a veteran that has been exposed to Agent Orange?

If you answered yes to any combination of these questions, you should talk to your doctor about being screened for lung cancer. If you are also a smoker and answered yes to these questions, you are at a high-risk of lung cancer and should be screened.

The American Lung Association estimates that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer accounting for 10 percent of all lung cancers. Occupational exposures are the third leading cause, and outdoor air pollution is fourth.

Will my insurance cover a lung cancer screening?

Medicare will cover the cost of a lung cancer screening and a mandate in the Affordable Care Act states that private insurance cover any screening exams with grade B evidence or greater (which includes the LDCT lung scan). Without insurance, the screening is $199.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that you continue getting screened for lung cancer until you turn 81 years old, have not smoked for 15 years, or you develop other health problems that would make surgery impossible or dangerous.

If you or a loved one answers yes to any of the above questions, it’s time to look into a lung cancer screening from the John Stoddard Cancer Center.

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