Stop the stigma. Get a lung screening.

Stop the stigma. Get a lung screening.

Smoking cigarettes went from a prominent part of pop culture to being banned at most public places in a matter of years. This shift in popularity of the once commonplace activity could be a reason people may hide the fact that they smoke or smoked cigarettes altogether.

Dr. Axel Joob, a thoracic surgeon at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, flagged the sentiment of shame for smoking as a concern, but not one that can’t be put at ease.

“Don’t let any stigma of smoking stop you or your loved ones from getting a lung screening,” says Dr. Joob. “A simple visit to the doctor for this routine screening can save a life.”

Current or former smokers, who have quit smoking in the last 15 years and are between the ages of 50 and 77, qualify for a lung screening.

Research shows stigma appears to be experienced more by lung cancer patients than by other patient groups and more by smokers compared to nonsmokers. Dr. Joob says that there is also a group of patients who don’t feel the stigma but for whatever reason, don’t want to know what would be found in a screening. Regardless of the reason, only about four to eight percent of candidates who qualify to be screened for lung cancer are getting screened.

For those who do get screened, there is some positive news. According to Dr. Joob, nearly sixty-five to seventy percent of those who discovered they have lung cancer from a screening have early-stage cancer. That means the cancer can be treated with minimally invasive surgery or limited radiation. Lung cancer screenings have shown a significant impact on improving lung cancer mortality.

“Cutting-edge technology has allowed for minimally invasive surgery. Now once we find early-stage lung cancer it can be treated without too much difficulty. With this treatment, patients can get back to their day-to-day lives relatively quick,” says Joob.

Lung screenings are a low-dose cat scan of the chest. “It’s simple and easy, like a mammogram. The recommendation is to come back once a year for the screening. This way if we find something it’s in the early stages and likely treatable,” says Dr. Joob.

Whether the reason be stigma or something else, don’t let it stand in the way of a lung screening that could save your life.

If you’re a current or former smoker between 50 and 77, get started by talking with your doctor –  you’ll discuss lung cancer risk factors and determine if a lung screening is right for you.

Want to learn more about your risk for lung cancer? Take a free online quiz to learn more.

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  1. What about those of us who have never smoked, but who grew up in a household with 2 parents that smoked. I was exposed to second hand smoke for 30 years.

  2. Excellent article. Dr. Joob tells it like it is.

  3. Why does lung screening stop at age 77? Is it of no use after that age?

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Sadie Schwarm