In March 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new lung cancer screening guidelines that double the number of individuals eligible for annual screening. This modification has the potential to save thousands of lives as lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, accounting for approximately 25 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, lung cancer is often diagnosed once a person has symptoms and the disease is at an advanced stage, which contributes to the low overall survival rate of this particular cancer.
Lung cancer screening is an incredibly important method to help detect and treat lung cancer in its early stages, and thanks to the new screening guidelines, even more high-risk adults are now eligible for an annual low-dose CT scan.
Are You Eligible?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends yearly lung cancer screening for people who match the following three criteria:
- Have a 20 pack-year or more smoking history
- Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years
- Are between 50 and 80 years old
A pack-year is a term used to measure the amount a person has smoked over a long period of time. For example, a person would be considered to have a 20 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years. With these new guidelines in place, nearly 15 million people are now eligible for an annual lung cancer screening.
What steps should I take to protect my health?
While expanding eligibility is certainly a step in the right direction, it’s not enough to simply be eligible for lung cancer screening. If you think you may be eligible, you are encouraged to talk with your primary care doctor about screening. Your primary care doctor is your partner in health and will be able to offer a full assessment to determine if an annual lung cancer screening is right for you. If you are considered at high-risk for lung cancer and screening is the right option for you, Glens Falls Hospital offers convenient access to low-dose screening at our Medical Imaging location at Hudson Headwater’s Moreau Family Health, a facility designed for patients in mind with excellent parking options and a simple check in process.
The new CT scanner at the Imaging department in Moreau has an embedded Computer Aided Detection (CAD) system which assist the radiologist in identifying suspicious findings on the images. The software utilizes sophisticated algorithms with thousands of previously diagnosed lung cancers to compare against the patient’s images allowing the radiologist to identify small areas of concern.
Current smokers are encouraged to quit smoking and are provided information about the Smoking Cessation programs available at Glens Falls Hospital run by trained smoking cessation counselors that help guide people into learning techniques to reduce or eliminate their consumption of tobacco products.
We are proud to be able to offer this service to our community, and we know first-hand the life-saving benefits of regular screenings. In 2020, more than 1,000 residents were screened for lung cancer at Glens Falls Hospital. Of those screened, we were able to detect and effectively treat stage 1 lung cancer in 13 individuals.
We are deeply committed to adding more healthy years to the lives of the people we serve.
Understand your risk, talk with your doctor and get screened if you are considered high-risk. Encourage your friends and family who may be high-risk to do the same.
Together, we can save lives.