By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–The American Lung Association has launched a comprehensive effort to assist San Diegans through the process of determining their risk for lung cancer, how to access potentially life-saving screenings, and quitting tobacco use if applicable.
California ranks 50th in the nation for high-risk individuals getting early-detection screenings, which increases the 5-year survival rate of those diagnosed with lung cancer by 60%.
High-risk individuals include adults 50-80 years of age who have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years or more. For these individuals, early detection and intervention of lung cancer can be a literal lifesaver. Lung cancer screening using low-dose CT scans helps diagnose lung cancer at its earlier stages when there are better opportunities for treatment.
Screening those at high risk of developing lung cancer can reduce mortality by up to 20%. And, while California has favorable insurance policies to cover lung cancer screening and treatment for high-risk individuals, the region ranks near the bottom of the list for early diagnosis (36th), lack of treatment for diagnosed patients (46th), and screening rate of high-risk individuals (50th) as only 1% of the region’s most vulnerable received early screening while that number is nearly 6% nationally.
While lung cancer does not discriminate, the percentage of lung cancer cases diagnosed at a late stage is significantly higher in Hispanic and Latino adults. Black adults in San Diego County have a higher incidence rate of lung cancer than white residents, as well as a much greater chance of being diagnosed with late-stage disease. Further, Black men and women have lower lung cancer survival rates than white men and women, partly because of their lower early diagnosis rates.
This targeted initiative builds off similar successful projects in Chicago and Philadelphia that focused on raising awareness of lung cancer in high-risk individuals.
In San Diego County, a bilingual Lung Health Navigation Team has been assembled to raise awareness and to guide individuals through risk assessment, screening, and accessing necessary resources to support their lung health, including transportation and health insurance enrollment.
This Lung Health Navigation Team offers a unique support aspect to help ensure individuals better understand the risk and screening process and can complete a low-dose CT scan with minimal barriers.
San Diego County residents who would like to learn more about lung cancer, believe they may be at risk for lung cancer or who have family members at high risk, should call the American Lung Association Lung Helpline at 1-844-ALA-LUNG (844-252-5864) to take a confidential risk-assessment quiz, determine eligibility for a lifesaving screening and speak directly to a Nurse Navigator to help every step along the way.