In the United States, lung cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women and men. A woman has a 1 in 17 chance of being diagnosed with some form of lung cancer in her lifetime, and a man’s risk is slightly higher (1 in 15). If you smoke, the risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is even greater. It is estimated that in 2020, approximately 228,820 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed (American Cancer Society, 2020).
“Thanks to reductions in the number of people who smoke, we are seeing fewer people diagnosed with and dying from lung cancer,” says Dr. Fred Ashbury, Chief Scientific Officer at VieCure. A study by researchers at Vanderbilt University has shown that a “former smoker’s lifetime risk of developing lung cancer drops by 39% five years after stopping”, he added, “and it will continue to drop as long as the person remains tobacco free”. Nevertheless, Ashbury states, “stopping smoking has many benefits beyond reducing risk of lung cancer, but stopping smoking doesn’t mean that person’s risk becomes the same as a person who never smoked. Talk with your doctor if you currently smoke or have stopped to learn if you are eligible for lung cancer screening.”
Among all forms of cancer, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society Estimates that 135,720 people will die of lung cancer in 2020.
Lung cancer mortality is also declining thanks to guidelines to screen eligible people and find lung cancers early enough where treatment can be more successful. “Lung cancer screening with annual low dose chest CT scans has been proven to reduce mortality rates in both men and women. Current, guidelines indicate that this should be undertaken in current and former smokers of age 55-80 by the US Preventive Services Task Force,” said Paul Bunn Jr., MD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and the James Dudley Endowed Professor of Lung Cancer at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and member of VieCure’s Clinical Advisory Council.
“However, dropping the initial age to 50 is under consideration. Unfortunately, uptake of the screening guidelines is low and the COVID pandemic further reduced the numbers of screened patients. We know that there will be an increased number of lung cancer deaths due to this reduction. We now have safe procedures for lung cancer CT screening which should be recommended for all eligible male and female current and former smokers between the
ages of 50 and 80.”