Take Action to Prevent Lung Cancer
Preventing Lung Cancer
- The best way to avoid getting lung cancer is not to smoke.
- If you do smoke, consider quitting! The sooner you quit the less likely it is that you will develop lung cancer.
- Speak to your healthcare professional about whether lung cancer screening is right for you.
- If you meet the criteria for screening, get screened.
Lung Cancer Prevention:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States and throughout the world.1
- Cigarette smoking is responsible for at least 80 percent of lung cancer cases.2
- Chances of surviving lung cancer are better if it is found early when it is more treatable than if it is found at a later stage. The five-year survival rate for early stage lung cancer is approximately 60%, compared to a 5-year survival rate of 6.3% when lung cancer is found at a later stage.3
- Ten to fifteen years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer is reduced by half.4
Lung Cancer Screening:
- Studies have shown that traditional chest x-rays are not effective in the early detection of lung cancer.
- Annual lung cancer screening with a low dose CT scan (LDCT) in people who have a high risk can prevent a large number of lung cancer related deaths.5
- The United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommends screening for lung cancer with LDCT in adults at increased risk of developing lung cancer.5
Lung Cancer Screening is recommended if:
- You currently smoke or are a former smoker who quit within the last 15 years, and
- Are between the ages of 50 and 80, and
- Have smoked an average of one pack per day for at least 20 years, or the equivalent (2 packs a day for 10 years).
Frequently Asked Questions or Concerns
- "What if I feel I can’t quit smoking? I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked"
Most people try many times before they are successful! There are many resources available to assist with your quit attempt including medications, nicotine replacement, individual and group counseling. Your health care provider can provide resources to assist you in your quit attempt.
- "What if I have too much stress to quit?"
It is common to believe that smoking eases your stress. In fact, nicotine is delivered to your blood stream in as little as 9 seconds. This can give you a temporary feeling of stress relief. However, what many smokers don’t realize is that it is only a brief feeling of stress relief, when in fact the body is more stressed when smoking. Your health care provider can assist you with learning healthy alternatives to manage stress.
- "I’m afraid of the results?" or "I would rather not get screened because I am afraid that I will find out I have lung cancer"
It is normal to be anxious about the results. However, most screenings do not show lung cancer. Lung nodules may be found, most of which are not cancer. Lung nodules are more often the result of old infections, scar tissue, or other causes. But tests are often needed to be sure a nodule is not cancer.
When screening indicates a person may have lung cancer, it is more likely to be at an early stage that is more treatable than a later stage cancer.
Talk to your health care provider if you experience prolonged anxiety about being screened so that assistance can be given during this time.
- "Should I get screened if I’m still smoking?"
Many patients who undergo screening for lung cancer are current smokers. Even those who do not quit smoking should still be screened for lung cancer. Being a current smoker should not deter you from screening. Resources are available for those who may be interested in quitting.
- "Why do I need screening if I feel fine and have no symptoms?"
Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until the cancer is more advanced. Screening of patients at risk has the potential to find lung cancer before symptoms occur and before the cancer has spread.
- "How long does a screening visit take? I don’t have time – too busy"
The low dose chest CT scan used to screen for lung cancer takes less than 10 minutes. These minutes spent can save your life.
- "I quit years ago. Why do I need screening?"
Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions that you can make for your health now and in the future. However, your medical provider will recommend that you be screened for lung cancer if you meet the criteria for screening.
Where to Find Additional Information & Support
Suffolk County Dept. of Health, "Learn To Be…Tobacco Free" program 631-853-4017
Smart Tip on Tobacco Use; Suffolk County Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion Coalition
Smart Tip on Passive Smoking; Suffolk County Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion Coalition
Stony Brook Center for Lung Cancer Screening and Prevention 1(631)638-7000 https://cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu/LungCancer/ScreeningProgram
Lung Cancer Alliance HelpLine 1(800)298-2436 http://www.lungcanceralliance.org/contact-us.html
New York State Quit Line: 1 (866) – NYQUITS https://www.nysmokefree.com/
Quit Assistance 1(800) QUIT NOW https://smokefree.gov/talk-to-an-expert
National Cancer Institute website for people trying to quit smoking www.smokefree.gov
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids www.tobaccofreekids.org
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009. Fact Sheet: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Updated December 20, 2020. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/.
- American Cancer Society, 2019. Lung Cancer Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention. October 1, 2019. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html.
- National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts: Lung and Bronchus Cancer. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/lungb.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020. Benefits of Quitting. Updated September 23, 2020. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2021. Final Recommendation Statement: Lung Cancer. March 9, 2021. https://uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/lung-cancer-screening#fullrecommendationstart.