Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of men and women in the United States, but now there’s a new test for high-risk current and former smokers that has been proven by U.S. and international randomized clinical trials to catch the disease in the earlier stages. This may save an estimated 25,000 lives each year.

Eight million Americans are considered as having high risk for lung cancer, and it's recommended they take an annual screening using a low-dose CT scan. However, experts estimate that it can take nearly 10 years for a diagnostic test to be fully accepted by the medical community, and a recent analysis indicated that less than 5 percent of those eligible to receive the low-dose CT scan have been screened. Why wait when we can save lives now?

Those most in need of screening

When patients from underserved communities are screened for lung cancer, they receive the lifesaving benefits of screening. But many of those high-risk people who may be eligible for screening don’t know that it is covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans, if they know about CT screenings at all. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a full and healthy life. And in order to make sure that all Americans who are eligible — especially many Black and Hispanic communities that already face significant barriers to good health — are informed about lifesaving lung cancer screening, the American Lung Association has undertaken a patient-centered approach to promote awareness and ensure that comprehensive screening facilities are widely available. 

Through the “Saved By The Scan” campaign, developed in partnership with the Ad Council, the Lung Association is raising awareness by encouraging those who may be at high risk for lung cancer to speak with their primary care provider about screening and take a simple online eligibility quiz at SavedByTheScan.org. The campaign has also ensured informative signage such as billboards and bus stop ads are posted in our underserved communities, and this fall will launch Spanish-language materials.

Eight million Americans are considered as having high risk for lung cancer.

In May, the American Lung Association partnered with the American Thoracic Society to launch the Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide, a blueprint that supports the implementation of comprehensive lung cancer screening programs in institutions such as community (urban and rural) hospitals and larger medical centers. This guide helps all healthcare entities to provide equally high value care in lung cancer screening. As a part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November, the Lung Association will launch LungCancerScreeningGuide.org, which will include the implementation guide and expanded screening resources. 

By taking a stand against lung cancer together, communities across the nation can ensure that their family and friends are informed about their risk factors for the disease and have access to the care that they deserve. Efforts to raise awareness of the importance of early detection for lung cancer and increase the availability of comprehensive screening move us closer to making sure as many people as possible, regardless of their personal and/or geographic demographics, are diagnosed at an earlier stage, with the best chance for a cure.