Number One Cause of Cancer Death

The leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. is lung cancer, killing an estimated 150,000 Americans each year.  Yet America’s heaviest smokers don’t want to know if they have cancer.


A new study led by Danh Pham, chief fellow of hematology/oncology at the University of Louisville’s cancer center in Kentucky, has shown only 1.9 percent, of those eligible received screening. Compare that to 60 to 80 percent of eligible people getting screened for breast, cervical and colon cancer. The researchers point to stigma associated with poor lifestyle choices. Pham said “It’s very difficult to get patients to have this conversation with their doctors because of the stigma, People may not want to know if they have lung cancer because it could confirm they’ve made bad lifestyle choices.”

Screening Could Save 12,000 Lives a Year

Bruce Johnson is the chief clinical research officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He said “If you screened the entire population of the U.S. who fit the criteria for having smoked enough and being the appropriate age, which is about 8 million people, you could save about 12,000 lives a year. The majority of lung cancers picked up are early stage, and finding them before the malignant cells spread reduces the risk of dying by about 20 percent.”

Early Detection

Monica Bertagnolli is the chief of surgical oncology at Dana-Farber. She added “Our ability to develop new, preventive therapies is directly dependent on our ability to screen high-risk populations. If you can’t do it for lung, it hampers forward progress.” Getting screened may not save your own life, but it could help save others.

You can read about this study here.

Bloomberg reported this study also. You can read their report here.

If you smoked for 3 decades or more and are over age 55 you are eligible for this screening for free. Please ask your doctor.