Health systems, providers, and organizations from across Connecticut are banding together to get the message out that lung cancer screening saves lives. The lung cancer screening workgroup of the Connecticut Cancer Partnership urges Connecticut people who smoke or used to smoke to ask their doctors whether lung cancer screening is right for them. According to the American Lung Association, “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in America, but now there’s hope. Screening is used to detect lung cancer early when it is more likely to be curable.”
The Partnership’s lung cancer experts are passionate about spreading these facts:
- Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer. More people die of lung cancer than the next 3 leading cancers: colon, breast, and pancreatic.
- Three times as many women die of lung cancer than die of breast cancer.
- 80 to 90% of lung cancer victims are people who smoke or who have smoked.
- 1 out of 10 people who smoke or have smoked will get lung cancer.
Annual lung cancer screening scans improve lives: the 5-year survival rate without screening is 15%, whereas the rate for those screened jumps to 80% when detected at an earlier, more treatable stage.
Screening won’t change your chances of getting lung cancer but if your lung cancer is found through regular screening, 80% of the time it will be at an early stage when there are better treatment options.
Representatives from Hartford Healthcare, Yale New Haven Health, UConn Health System, Middlesex Health, the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, the CT Dept. of Public Health, Nuvance Health, Stamford Health among others participate in monthly meetings to improve low rates of screening for Connecticut’s high-risk population.
The test is a quick non-invasive, painless, and low-dose CT scan that takes multiple pictures as the patient lies on a table that slides in and out of the machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed picture of the lungs.
Annual screening for lung cancer is recommended and covered by most insurances and Medicare for people 50 through 80 years old (77 for Medicare) with a 20 or more pack-year history of smoking who are currently smoking or have quit within the past 15 years. Pack-year history means for example, twenty-pack years equals one pack a day for 20 years or 2 packs a day for 10 years.
The Connecticut Cancer Partnership works with providers and hospital systems throughout Connecticut to reduce the burden of cancer in the state. Its focus in 2023 is to increase the lung cancer screening rate for eligible residents. Less than 7% of eligible patients in Connecticut have received this potentially life-saving test.
If you or someone you know smokes or used to smoke now is the time to ask the doctor about lung cancer screening. For more information go to www.ctcancerpartnership.org or to https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/screening.htm.