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Should I Be Screened for Lung Cancer?

November 09, 2022

Although lung cancer is often preventable, this cancer type has the highest rate of cancer-related deaths nationwide. In fact, it claims almost as many lives annually as colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. In 2022, an estimated 14,790 Texans are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer, with 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths attributed to smoking.

Like with all cancer types, knowing your risk of developing lung cancer is crucial in early detection. Understanding what preventable measures you should take, such as lung cancer screenings (LCS), can reduce your risk and protect your body against lung cancer.

The Importance of Getting Screened

Men and women who smoke are approximately 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Lung cancer screenings (LCS) are key for early detection and lowering the risk of mortality, especially in those who smoke. People ages 50 to 80 who have smoked, on average, one pack of cigarettes daily for 20 or more years and who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years are at a higher risk of lung cancer and qualify for screening with annual low-dose non-contrast computed tomography (CT) of the chest.

A recent study found despite 70 percent of at-risk women being diligent in getting their annual mammogram, the screening rate for lung cancer among eligible women was low by comparison. Researchers discovered a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths among at-risk women who received a low-dose screening CT of the chest.

By encouraging women to become educated on their risk factors, as well as consider getting an annual LCS in addition to their mammogram, the hope is to reduce deaths from both common types of cancer.

If I Do Not Smoke, Am I Still at Risk?

If you are a non-smoker, there are still other genetic and environmental factors that may play a role in your risk of lung cancer.

  • Age: Most people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older.
  • Family and/or Personal History: People with a parent or sibling who had lung cancer may have a higher-than-average risk, even if they do not smoke. People who have already had one episode of lung cancer are at an increased risk of developing a second lung cancer.
  • Carcinogen Exposure: People who live or work in certain conditions with exposure to radioactive gas, asbestos, arsenic, radon, diesel exhaust, air pollution, and other substances have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Preventive Measures To Lower Your Risk of Lung Cancer

Do not smoke or quit as soon as possible. Smoking is the No.1 risk factor for lung cancer. Other steps you can take to lower your risk of lung cancer include:

  • Take precautions at work. Exposure to certain types of fumes, dust, and chemicals can cause lung cancer. Make sure to wear appropriate safety gear.
  • Test your home for radon. Radon, a radioactive gas, can increase your risk of lung cancer with long-term exposure. Most of Texas has low levels, however some homes that are built on soil with natural occurring deposits like uranium can have high levels of radon that may seep into the home. To test your home, you can buy a radon detection kit or seek an EPA-suggested professional.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke: More than 7,300 people in the U.S. die annually from lung cancer as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Men and women are encouraged to consult with their physician to learn about the impact of lung cancer, including what they can do to lower their risk and protect their body, as well as consider getting screened on National Lung Cancer Screening Day on Saturday, Nov. 12.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.