Lung cancer: New scan helps patients beat the odds


BOSTON, Mass. (NBC News) – Lung cancer kills more than 150,000 Americans every year, and how early it is diagnosed has a big impact on survival.

This Lung Cancer Awareness Month the American Lung Association has partnered up with the Ad Council to encourage those at particular risk to get screened using a relatively new non-invasive and painless technology.

Their new public service announcement targets former smokers, 55 and older.

“If you smoked, get scanned,” it says.

According to the American Lung Association, the low-dose CT scan detects lung cancer in the early stages, often before there are any symptoms, when the disease is more treatable.

“If everybody who qualified got this scan, it would save about 48,000 lives a year,” says Dr. Jacobb Sands, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Less than 20% of those diagnosed are alive after five years, but for the 16% whose cases are caught early, the survival rate improves dramatically.

“I had the scan done last April, April 2018,” said Milli Wilson, a lung cancer survivor. “In May 2018, I had surgery for stage 1 lung cancer.”

Wilson is cancer free today and credits that early detection scan.

“It’s not painful, it’s not invasive and it can save your life,” she said. “It definitely saved mine.”

Health experts are encouraging former smokers to take an online quiz to determine if they qualify for a scan. To take the scan, visit

Dr. Sands says insurance companies should cover the cost of the screening.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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