Lung cancer awareness month

November is lung cancer awareness month.

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the nation’s top cancer killer.

Most lung cancer is found in its later stages when it may be treatable but is not curable.

People at high risk for lung cancer should be screened.

High risk criteria includes people between the ages of 55 and 74, who have smoked within the past 15 years, are healthy enough to tolerate cancer treatment if lung cancer is found, and smoked for at least 30 pack years. Pack years are calculated by multiplying the number of packs smoked each day by the number of years someone has smoked – for example, 2 packs a day for 15 years equals 30 pack years.

In 2015, many private insurers will be required to cover lung cancer screening in this high risk group.

Also, recently the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, proposed that lung cancer screening be covered by medicare in this group as well. A final determination is expected in the next few months.

While screening may catch lung cancer early, quitting smoking to prevent lung cancer in the first place is best.

It’s common for small lung nodules to turn up in a lung cancer screening scan which can lead to additional procedures, scans and emotional distress.

That’s why only those at highest risk show the most benefit from screening.

Source: WWSB My Suncoast Health Lung Cancer Awareness Month