November is Lung Cancer awareness month. Lung cancer kills more people annually than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. In 2019, the American Cancer Society expects 228,150 new cases of lung cancer nationally and 430 new cases in North Dakota. Men are diagnosed more often with lung cancer than women, but lung cancer in women is on a significant rise. Every five minutes, a woman in the United States is told she has lung cancer. Despite this fact, only three percent of women surveyed identified lung cancer as a pressing health concern. Smoking is directly attributable to about 80 percent of death from lung cancer. Compared to non-smokers, those who smoke have a 15 to 30 times higher risk of developing lung cancer.
The most important part of lung cancer prognosis is the individual’s age and how early the lung cancer is diagnosed. Lung cancers identified at an early stage provide more options for a cure with surgical intervention. Survival rates are directly linked to screening and early diagnosis. However, only 16 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage.
Lung cancer screening is the newest cancer screening recommended by the United States Preventative Services Task Force. Patients who are identified as candidates for lung cancer screening undergo a computed tomography (CT) study of the chest using low-dose radiation. These studies use 90 percent less radiation than a conventional computed tomography study. The screenings have been shown to decrease lung cancer mortality by identifying lung cancers at an earlier stage.
Though lung cancer screenings have been available since 2015, utilization remains low. In 2017, only about 4 percent of eligible individuals received lung cancer screenings.
To be eligible:
- Individuals must be between the ages of 55 and 77 years of age.
- Individuals must have a 30-pack-year smoking history. (Pack-year smoking history is calculated by multiplying the number of years smoked by the number of packs per day smoked).
- If the individual is a former smoker, they must have quit smoking within the last 15 years.
If you feel you are a candidate for low-dose lung cancer screening, schedule a consultation with your primary care provider or a pulmonology specialist. During this consultation, you and your provider will assess your eligibility as a candidate and answer any questions you may have about the screenings. If you would like to schedule an appointment for the lung cancer screening consultation, please call Trinity Health Pulmonology at 701-857-5741 or contact your primary care provider.
Trinity Health Pulmonology providers available to help you include Jeffrey Verhey, MD; Heidi Bender, DNP, APRN, FNP–C; and Dwight Remington, DNP, APRN, FNP–C, and are located at Health Center – East, Ste 203, 20 Burdick Expy W, Minot.