December 20, 2014

New screening guidelines for lung cancer

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Lung cancer presents no symptoms, until it’s too late. The American Lung Association in Wisconsin recommends new screening guidelines for at-risk individuals.

Spokesperson Dona Wininsky says by the time people start seeing symptoms, quite often they are well beyond stage one. “That’s why we’re issuing these very specific guidelines. If you are that 30-pack years type of smoker (equal to smoking one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, or three packs a day for 7 1/2 years), if you’re within a certain age group, don’t wait. Be proactive. Go to your doctor and say the American Lung Association is recommending low-dose CT screenings and early detection. And even though I’m not having symptoms, I wanna be screened.”

If you’re not sick, the results will give you peace of mind. And, she says, it’s on your doctor’s radar.

Wininsky says the new guidelines promote early detection of lung cancer — a deadly disease that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, relatively speaking. “Unfortunately it’s because there is a little bit of a preconceived notion that it’s just a smokers disease, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to dispel.” Smoking causes lung cancer, but so does second-hand smoke and radon.

Wininsky says lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. “In fact, there are more deaths from lung cancer than breast cancer, prostate, colon, rectal, and pancreatic cancers all combined.”

Despite that, she says lung cancer research — critical to finding better treatments and a cure — is underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars compared to other types of cancers. Along with the new awareness campaign, they’re launching a new website called MyLungCancerSupport.org

The recommendations are based on results of the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:29