Lung Cancer Awareness: While Treatments Advance, Prevention Remains Key

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths across the nation, and while treatments have advanced, and screenings are more likely to catch the issue early, prevention remains key.

According to Holly Shok, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Penn Highlands Healthcare, screenings can make a major difference in reducing lung cancer morality.

“Early detection can save lives,” Shok told

“The Lung Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare was the first in the region to offer CT lung cancer screenings, which, in high-risk patients, can reduce the chance of lung cancer related death by up to 20 percent.”

Shok noted that when detected early by low-dose CT, lung cancer patients have more treatment options and a greater survival rate.

“Screening is completely painless, takes only about 15 to 20 minutes and most insurances cover the cost.”

The Lung Center recommends those who meet the following criteria should consider annual lung cancer screening:

  • Individuals between ages 55 and 80 with at least a 30 pack-year smoking history and continue to smoke or quit smoking less than 15 years ago. One pack-year is equal to smoking 20 cigarettes, or one pack, every day for one year.
  • Individuals age 50 or older with at least 20 pack-years and one or more risk factors: long-term exposure to asbestos, asbestos-related lung disease, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, family history of lung cancer, long-term exposure to silica, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, diesel fumes, nickel, coal smoke and soot.

While the importance of early detection and treatment cannot be understated, awareness and prevention are still a key focus of reducing the massive impact of lung cancer.

Smoking is considered one of the largest contributors to lung cancer and is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Locally, the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion County Drug and Alcohol provides free tobacco cessation classes for people interested in quitting. Those interested in enrolling in cessation classes can contact the Tobacco-Free Coordinator for Clarion, Clearfield, and Jefferson counties at 814-226-6350.

Any Pennsylvanian 14 years of age or older who smokes or uses chewing tobacco can also call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) to receive help dealing with their tobacco addiction. The toll-free hotline provides service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

While lung cancer has been in a slow decline over the last decade in our nation, it still accounts for about 13% of all new cancer cases in the U.S. and causes 25% of the cancer deaths in the nation, according to the National Cancer Institute. It remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. with a current five-year survival rate of just 18%.

(This is the second article in a series in recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.)

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