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The Columbus Dispatch: Bringing Awareness to Lung Cancer Screenings

When we think about annual cancer screenings, many times we think about mammograms and colonoscopies, but what about lung cancer screenings? 228,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and Ohio has the 13th highest rate of diagnosis in the country, according to the American Lung Association.

Ohioans are developing lung cancer at an alarmingly high rate and it could be linked to the lack of testing done for the disease. Screening for lung cancer is done by a low-dose CT scan of the chest and has been offered since 2015. But many people do not know about the screening or the risk factors that would qualify them for it.

“What I think is really going to be key for Ohio is really getting out the info about lung screening and really treating it like a mammogram,” said Kim Hehman, director of cancer and respiratory care at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital, in an interview with reporter Max Filby of The Columbus Dispatch.

It is recommended that risk specific patients should treat the screening just like any other regularly scheduled testing. Risk specific patients include anyone who smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years (or an equivalent, such as two packs per day for 15 years) and is between the ages of 55 and 77. Risk may vary depending on how often and how long a person has smoked.

“It is important to get screened, because lung cancer typically doesn’t start showing symptoms until it’s reached a later stage. For some late-showing symptoms, including a nagging couch, wheezing or trouble breathing, may be the first warning signs,” said Hehman.

Hehman believes the most important step to help reduce this problem is to encourage people to stop smoking. In Ohio, only 17.3 percent of lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage according to the American Lung Association.

“What we’ve really tried to do is get awareness about screening out there. But if we can reduce the risk factors, such as tobacco use, we can eliminate the need for the screening,” said Hehman.

To learn more about lung cancer screenings and find and an OhioHealth screening location near you, click here.

To read the full story in the Dispatch, click on their logo below.