This article is part of Lung Cancer Strikes Non-Smokers, Too. This Novel Screening Program Aims to Find Out Why..
The need for more lung cancer screening is compelling. Nationwide, lung cancer is projected to kill 132,000 people in 2021, double the number of deaths from any other cancer. In Brooklyn, lung cancer is the single largest cause of cancer death.
The most populous borough has New York City’s highest annual lung cancer incidence and second-highest rate (after Staten Island). Abraham Chachoua, MD, medical director of the Lung Cancer Center, notes that a high percentage of his Brooklyn patients are diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, “and that speaks to a lack of screening.”
Lung cancer typically causes no symptoms in its early stages and has spread to other organs by the time it’s diagnosed. Only a tiny fraction of those eligible for screening in Brooklyn actually receive it, despite the fact that, according to a major study, annual scans reduce lung cancer deaths among this group by 20 percent. The 5-year survival rate for localized non–small cell lung cancer is 63 percent, but that figure drops to 7 percent for patients diagnosed at stage 4, according to the National Cancer Institute.
New recommendations released in March 2021 from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will nearly double the number of patients advised to have yearly scans, lowering the recommended screening age from age 55 to 50 and reducing the smoking history guideline from 30 years to 20 years.