Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, often because it is detected too late. It claims the lives of patients who, with an earlier screening could have saved their life. Early detection of lung cancer through low-dose CT scans has proven to be an effective way to reduce mortality and improve outcomes.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans for people who:
- Have a history of heavy smoking, i.e., history of “30 pack years” of smoking, where “pack years” is the number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years smoked
- Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years
- Are between 55 and 80 years old
The cost of low-dose CT scans are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans for individuals at high risk for lung cancer and meet certain criteria. If you think you may meet the criteria for screening please talk to your healthcare provider.
The most effective way to reduce lung cancer risk is to quit smoking. Because of the proven linkage between smoking and cancer, there is no single intervention more effective at reducing cancer mortality than tobacco cessation. Smokers who quit before age 40 reduce their chance of dying too early from smoking-related diseases such as cancer by about 90 percent. Those who quit by age 45–54 reduce their chance of dying too early by about two-thirds. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improve the length and quality of his or her life. As soon as you quit, your body begins to repair the damage caused by smoking.
Interested in quitting smoking? Visit Tobacco Free NJ to find a Quit Center near you, contact the free 24/7 NJ Quitline, or access Mom’s Quit Connection for Families. You can also contact a ScreenNJ partner in your area to learn find more local support services.