Montefiore in the News
Lung Cancer Screening Has Come a Long Way, But Only 10% of Eligible People Take Advantage
- March 31, 2021
Prioritize Lung Cancer Screenings
- Dr. Brendon Stiles talks to SurvivorNet about why lung cancer screenings need to be prioritized among more people.
- Although new guidelines have dropped the age of eligibility for lung cancer screenings, Dr. Stiles says only 10% of those eligible get screened.
- These screenings can detect and catch signs of lung cancer early. Those who don’t get screened can be more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer in later stages, which decreases treatment options.
- Thanks to years of research, lung cancer screenings have become increasingly more effective and accessible to the public. However, only 10% of people who are eligible for lung cancer screenings take advantage of them.
- In March 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPST) introduced new guidelines which dropped the age of eligibility for lung cancer screening from 55-years-old to 50-years-old as well as the number of “pack years” a person has. “Pack years” refers to the number of years a person smoked an average of one pack of cigarettes a day. For example, if someone smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 25 years their “pack history” would be 25 years; if someone smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 25 years their “pack history” would be 50 years. These guidelines allow more people to get screened, but unfortunately not many people are taking advantage of these extremely important tests.
- Related: Former & Current Heavy Smokers Should Get Lung Cancer Screenings Using CT Scan, Says Leading Expert
- “Unfortunately, lung cancer screening is currently only utilized at about 10% at most of the eligible patients,” Dr. Brendon Stiles, a thoracic surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet. “So we’ve got to do better about getting that message out that lung cancer screening is effective, it’s safe and it can be done responsibly.”
- Cancer screenings are a critical way to detect and catch a cancer diagnosis early. By catching the cancer in an earlier stage, this allows the patient to have more available treatment options and increase the likelihood of going into remission. For lung cancer screenings people will go through a CT scan, which is a simple procedure that can detect signs of the disease. According to Dr. Stiles, these scans aren’t utilized nearly enough and that’s why many lung cancer diagnoses are found in later stages.
- “We do have CT screening available, but unfortunately it’s grossly underutilized,” says Dr. Stiles. “So not as many lung cancer patients get diagnosed early, most in fact get diagnosed with late stage disease…we need to find the disease in earlier stages. That means expanded screening for lung cancer diagnosed in cases earlier. We know that with screening we can find about 60 to 80% of cases early stage one.”