Our main goal at Ezra is to get you and your loved ones informed about your cancer risks. We want to help you take action to protect yourself and the ones you love from a cancer that’s discovered too late.
As part of our National Cancer Control Month outreach, we’re shining the spotlight on Lung Cancer.
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in the US and worldwide. According to the CDC, lung cancer was responsible for over 20% of all cancer deaths in 2020, making it more deadly than colon, prostate, and breast cancer combined.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 238,000 new cases of lung cancer in the US in 2023. Unfortunately, many of these cases aren’t discovered until the advanced stages because lung cancers often grow silently before symptoms actually appear. Only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, so the average five-year survival rate for all lung-cancer types combined is only around 18.6 percent. Sadly, more than half of all people with lung cancer die within 1 year of their diagnosis.
Whether you are a current smoker, live with a love one who smokes, or you’re someone who quit more than a decade ago, we want you to understand your personal risk factors for lung cancer.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How do I know if I have lung cancer?” we want you to take action – find out if lung cancer screening is right for you, learn why early detection is so important, and take control of your cancer risk with a few empowering steps.
What are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
It’s important to know that anyone can get lung cancer, but people who breathe in toxic air for long periods are usually at the highest risk.
There are some key toxic exposures to be aware of:
- Smoking – It’s the number one cause of lung cancer. Even second-hand smoke can increase your risk. Quitting smoking is your best tool for lower your risk, but even after quitting your risk for developing lung cancer doesn’t go away completely.
- Radon – Exposure to this radioactive gas is the second most common cause for lung cancer. Radon is an odorless gas that naturally occurs in soil. Most people are exposed through radon in their homes or other buildings where they spend long periods.
- Air Pollution – Fine particle pollution consist of particles smaller than the diameter of a single hair. There’s growing evidence that exposure of a long period of time can be linked to lung cancer. Even in people that have never smoked.
- Hazardous Chemicals – Exposures to asbestos, arsenic, chromium and other dangerous chemicals can increase your risk for certain types of lung cancers.
If you combine some of this risk factors with smoking that can severely increase your risk for developing lung cancer.
Our team at Ezra can help you understand your risk for lung and other cancers with this 5-minute risk calculator.
Is Lung Cancer Screening Right for You?
Once you understand the risk factors, it’s a good idea to consider whether or not lung cancer screening might be a good choice for you or your loved one.
Lung cancer screening involves testing to detect the presence of lung cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms.
The most common screening test for lung cancer is a low-dose CT (LDCT) scan. LDCT scans use low levels of radiation to create detailed images of the lungs. These images can help identify small nodules or growths that may be cancerous. This is considered the gold standard when it comes to lung cancer screening.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends lung cancer screening for people with the following:
- Age 50 to 80 years
- Have a history of smoking
- Currently smoke or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
- Have a smoking history of at least 20 pack-years (For example: smoking one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years or two packs per day for 10 years). Here’s a video to help you calculate your smoking history.
Ezra offers a screening for lung cancer with a LDCT in addition to other screening tests.
Still have questions about whether lung cancer screening is right for you? Check out this useful information about screening.
What are the Benefits of Screening for Lung Cancer?
Screening for lung cancer, especially for people at high risk can be a life-saver.
Many of the risk factors for a poor prognosis involve your general health, the type of cancer, and amount of spread when the cancer is found. Lung cancer is especially deadly because people can go for a long time without symptoms, even as the lung cancer spreads in through their body. Often when symptoms like persistent cough, weight loss, chest pain, shortness of breathing, or coughing up blood occur, it’s too late for curative treatment.
Researchers have found that screening with LDCT dramatically improves the survival rate for lung cancer patients because doctors can diagnose more early-stage lung cancer leading to more curative treatment options. This can reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by up to 20% in people with a high-risk.
The risks of LDCT screening include:
- False positives: LDCT scans can detect nodules or growths that may not be cancerous.
- Radiation exposure: While the amount of radiation used in LDCT scans is low, repeated scans over time can increase the risk of radiation exposure and potential harm.
- False negative: This is when a cancer is not picked up by the scan, and usually requires repeated follow-up scans to increase detection accuracy.
One of the risks of lung cancer screening doctors commonly discuss with their patients is the risk for a false positive. That’s when LDCT scans can detect nodules or growths that may not be cancerous, leading to unnecessary additional testing or procedures.
Here’s where some guidance from medical experts fits in. The Fleischner Society Guidelines and LUNG-RADs are two sets of guidelines used to evaluate and manage lung nodules found on imaging tests. These guidelines are used to help doctors determine whether a nodule is likely to be cancerous or benign and how to proceed with further testing and treatment.
Your team at Ezra will help you understand the benefits of lung cancer screening and help advise you about follow up in the event that a nodule is discovered. Here’s some more information about what a screening program can look like.
Take Action for Prevention
Although there’s no way to completely safeguard yourself from cancer, early detection and taking steps to stay healthy are key to reduce your risk.
Here are some actionable steps for lung cancer prevention:
- Quit smoking: This is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of lung cancer. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. There are many resources available to help you quit smoking, including nicotine replacement therapy, counseling, and support services.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke: If you don't smoke, but you're regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, you're still at risk for lung cancer. Avoid spending time in places where people smoke, and encourage your loved ones to quit smoking as well.
- Test your home for radon: You can buy a radon testing kit at a hardware store, or you can hire a professional to test your home for you. Learn more here.
- Reduce exposure to air pollution: Air pollution can increase the risk of lung cancer, especially for people who live in urban areas. You can reduce your exposure by avoiding areas with high levels of pollution, using air filters in your home, and using public transportation instead of driving.
- Plan for early detection: Routine health screening tests, like the Ezra Lung CT scan, may help alert you or your loved one to the earliest signs of lung cancer. Here’s a video for more information.
- Talk to loved ones about their risks: If you are worried about some one you love, check out this information for tips about encouraging your loved one to get screened.
- Keep track of your overall health: Ezra’s full-body MRI screening provides a look into your overall health and helps detect signs of potential early cancer or early disease. It can help assess the current status of your health, monitor your body across time, and flag any abnormalities early.
- Ask questions and get informed: We want to make sure you have all the information and resources you need when it comes to lung cancer screening. If you still have questions, check out these helpful infographics and screening resources.
If you are considering an Ezra LDCT, full-body MRI, or gifting an Ezra LDCT or full-body MRI to a loved one, schedule a call with our team to learn more/ Contact us at (888) 402-3972 or firstname.lastname@example.org