COVID-19 is currently at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to their health, but getting screened for lung cancer is just as important as ever. Screening for lung cancer before any acute symptoms show up can mean catching lung cancer in its early stages, when treatment is most effective and curable.
Lung cancer has the lowest early survival rate. Only 18 percent of patients survive the first five years because the vast majority of lung cancers are found late stage. In 2016, only 2 percent of the eligible lung cancer population underwent screening. Meanwhile, over half the population underwent screening for breast and colorectal cancers contributing to their 89% and 99% five year survival rates respectively. Increasing the rate in which lung cancers are diagnosed early is a core priority for GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. Thus, working with community-based medical centers to provide responsible screening and care must continue and not be delayed.
The impact of COVID-19
Ramping up screening is not without challenges posed by the pandemic. New research shows that people with cancer are more likely to suffer complications from COVID-19. Studies from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center show that cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are at greater risk of developing respiratory problems. This is particularly true for people battling lung cancer.
Diagnosing and treating COVID-19 in patients with lung cancer also poses challenges. In a document by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), they report that pneumonitis caused by radiation can present as COVID-19 pneumonia in imaging studies, making a clear diagnosis more complicated.
Don’t be afraid
With the social distancing restrictions imposed by COVID-19, screening can seem like a risk, but telemedicine options are helping patients through the screening process as safely as possible. The GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer provides many digital resources for people living with lung cancer or those wanting to get screened, including connecting patients with screening centers and offering videos on lung cancer and coronavirus.
If you or someone you love falls into the high-risk category for lung cancer, consider scheduling a screening today, to help protect you and your loved ones’ health in the future.