There are 52 million ex-smokers in the U.S. — and around 62 million people say that they have smoked cigarettes or vaped in the past 30 days according to a 2021 survey. That's a whole bunch of people who could take advantage of the life-saving benefits of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for lung cancer.
But only about 1 in 15 who are eligible end up being screened. That's a shame.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in this country, and screening can detect it at an early stage when it's treatable, even curable.
A large-scale study published in the journal Radiology reveals that when people are diagnosed with lung cancer through a LDCT screening, there is a significant increase in the 20-year survival rate. Among the 1,257 study-participants diagnosed with lung cancer, 81% had Stage I and their long-term survival rate was 87%; it rose to 95% if they were diagnosed in the earliest part of Stage 1.
Without annual screenings, most lung cancer cases are caught at later stages. For example, most small cell lung cancer is diagnosed at Stage 3 or 4, with survival rates of five years or less.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people ages 50 to 80 with at least a 20 pack-a-year smoking history should have an annual screening. And it doesn't matter how long ago you quit smoking.
If you or a loved one meets the screening criteria, take advantage of it, so that even if you are diagnosed, your long-term outcome is as positive as possible.