What Prevents Heavy Smokers From Screening For Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States, and it is the second most common cancer in men and women. It is recommended that smokers get tested for lung cancer to necessitate treatment, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Only a small fraction of smokers take advantage of lungcancer screening that can be potentially lifesaving. It is perceived that most smokers don’t turn out because of the fear of stigmatization andcancer diagnosis. A study has revealed that only 2% of the heavy smokers in the U.S. areadvised to get screening for lungcancer. This statistic is very low compared to breast cancer and coloncancer screenings which are not so comfortable. Lung cancer screening has risks, especially from exposure to radiation due to repeated CT scans. Due to this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended screening only for those people who are at the highest risk of lung cancer. These include those who have smoked for over a long period of time and are at the age of between 55 and 80 years. Lung cancer risk decreases the longer one abstains from smoking. It is because of this that guidelines have been provided for current smokers and those who stopped smoking within the past 15 years. After the screening, follow-up tests are conducted to confirm if the screening results showthatcancer is present. Increased screening might save money. Studies have shown that the fear of stigma is the reason many smokers may not consider getting screened for lung cancer. They worry about being blamed for smoking by the radiology technicians or healthcare providers. This may prevent them from opening up to the doctor about screening or making a screening appointment. Some screening program have been set up and offer CT scans for free. They have realized positive outcomes after screening 65% of their eligible population. These centers achieved this by educating medical professionals in the community and reaching out to all high-risk patients through meetings, visiting elder homes and the air force base. It is very clear that most individuals do not turn out for screening because they are not aware. What is required is public education and awareness campaigns to reach out to heavy smokers. Early screening and detection of lung cancer can save lives and also help patients avoid the intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments required if cancer is detected.