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The One Tool That Could Save Thousands at Risk for Lung Cancer

Photo: Courtesy of Luka Malic

In the last decade, there have been tremendous advances in lung cancer treatment options, yet lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Why is this? Currently, only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed early when the disease is most curable. But there is hope.

Getting an early diagnosis

Diagnosing lung cancer early will save lives and a groundbreaking tool is now available to help detect lung cancer in the early stages of the disease for those considered at high risk. The lung cancer screening test, a low-dose CT scan, has been proven in a major national study to reduce lung cancer mortality. Even better, the scan is covered by many health plans without cost-sharing for those at high risk.

Although an estimated nine million Americans are at high risk for developing lung cancer and eligible for screening, this tool is still vastly underutilized. Many Americans are unaware of this new test, and may also be unaware that they are eligible for it. If you meet the following criteria, you are considered to be at “high risk” for developing lung cancer and eligible for screening:

  • You are 55-80 years of age
  • You have a 30-pack-year history of smoking (this means smoking one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
  • and are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years

Saving lives

We know that screening saves lives. In fact, if only half of those nine million Americans at high risk for lung cancer were screened, an estimated 15,000 lives would be saved. Recognizing the need to raise awareness about this new, lifesaving tool, the Ad Council and the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative launched the public awareness campaign, Saved By The Scan. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about lung cancer screening and who might be eligible and to encourage high-risk individuals to learn more by speaking with their doctor.

If you’re concerned about your risk, we encourage you to take the lung cancer screening eligibility quiz at and speak to your doctor to learn more.

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