Lung cancer remains Iowa’s top cancer killer, but there’s a new type of lung cancer screening for people considered high-risk. The low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer in the early stages, before symptoms arise. Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, calls the scan groundbreaking and a potential lifesaver.
The term “30-pack year history” means they’ve smoked an average of one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years. Studies find 84-percent of lung cancer cases are detected in the late stage when it’s very difficult to treat. When detected earlier, the survival rate is increased by more than five times. Wimmer says anyone can get lung cancer, especially people who smoke and those around them.
In Iowa, 42-percent of the population is considered “ever smokers,” meaning they’re either current or former smokers, and they may benefit from the scan.
The scan is typically a covered benefit under most insurance plans, according to Wimmer. There were more than 24-hundred new lung cancer cases diagnosed in Iowa last year and nearly 18-hundred deaths. Nationwide, lung cancer kills an average of 421 people daily, that’s about 18 deaths each hour, or one death every three-and-a-half minutes.