Los Angeles (CBS Newspath) – Monday, August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day, raising awareness about the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.
A new survey shows many Americans don’t know about screening, which can detect the disease early for people at high risk. Denise Lee is one woman who shares her lung cancer story with the world.
Denise Lee passes a billboard about lung cancer every day on the way home from work in 2017. The billboards encouraged lung cancer screening for people at high risk. Denise has just quit smoking after 40 years.
“I was just trying to all around get healthy. I did not know that there was such a thing as a low dose CT scan until I saw that billboard,” Lee said.
She asked her doctor about screening but had to wait a few months until she turned 55 to be eligible. Lee scheduled her screening and that CT scan revealed that she had early stage 1B lung cancer.
“I had my upper left lobe removed. I had 17 lymph nodes removed. And then I had some factors that were indicative of a higher rate of recurrence,” said lee.
A new American Lung Association survey shows nearly 70% of Americans are not familiar with the availability of lung cancer screening for early detection.
“75% of people in this country who are diagnosed with lung cancer are diagnosed at its most advanced stages where it’s hardest to cure, ” Volunteer Spokesperson for the American Lung Association Dr. David Tom Cooke said.
Dr. David Tom Cooke is the chief of general thoracic surgery at UC Davis Health.
“Of all the Americans who are candidates/only 5% of Americans undergo lung cancer screening,” Cooke said.
Guidelines now recommend screening for people between ages 50 and 80 with a 20-year smoking history, current smokers or ones who have quit within the last 15 years.
Lee had surgery and only needed four rounds of chemotherapy.
“Early detection saved my life. I’m just really passionate about people who are eligible getting screened,” Lee said.
“She was also able to take part in a clinical trial testing an immunotherapy drug to try to prevent recurrence,” Danya Bacchus CBS News correspondence.
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About 14 million Americans are considered at high risk for lung cancer and are recommended for screening.
For more information on your risk for lung cancer and whether you are eligible, you can take the Saved by the Scan quiz from the American Lung Association.