Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Raising Awareness About Early Detection

Published On: November 15th, 2022Categories: Patients, Specialty

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. More people die annually from lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Because a majority of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in the late stage, survival rates remain low. But there is hope and with fewer smokers, improvements in treatments for non-small cell lung cancer, and earlier screening- the rate of lung cancer deaths is decreasing.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

One of the main reasons lung cancer is hard to diagnose in its early stage, is that many of the symptoms are general symptoms that many people experience in their daily life. Raising awareness about symptoms is key for patient knowledge and early detection. Symptoms of lung cancer include cough, weight loss, lack of energy, chest infection like bronchitis that keep coming back, loss of appetite, wheezing, etc. As these are symptoms many people experience in day-to-day life, diagnosis is often made in the late stage and leads to a high mortality rate. It is important to visit a doctor when you first notice symptoms because early diagnosis is key and will make treatment most effective.

Early Lung Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Lung cancer is notoriously hard to detect in its early stages and harder to treat in its late stages. A majority of patients who present symptoms of lung cancer are already in the later stages and cancer has spread to other parts of the body- making treatment even more complicated. Early screening for lung cancer can improve the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer significantly. Raising awareness for screening is key, as those who are at higher risk for lung cancer often go unscreened. Only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, according to the American Lung Association. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 56% when the disease is still localized within the lungs. The recommended test for lung cancer detection is a low-dose CT scan. Using CT screening to diagnose early-stage lung cancer has been shown to significantly improve the overall long-term survival rate. Individuals who are aged 50 to 80 and currently smoke, have smoked, or quit smoking in the last 15 years are recommended to have a CT scan. This has been shown to drastically increase the survival rate for lung cancer because of the ability to detect the disease early on. But CT screening can leave cancer undiagnosed. There is more to be done to improve a patient’s chance of survival.

To complement CT screening, tests that identify tumor DNA present in patients can help to catch the disease earlier.

The Future of Lung Cancer Treatment

More than half of people with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed. But a diagnosis is not a death sentence. With better testing, there is hope for earlier detection. Liquid biopsies being used to identify DNA fragments from cancer cells that are circulating in a patient’s bloodstream. Additionally, the success of immunotherapeutics and advanced screening tests are making for a brighter future in lung cancer treatment. The field is changing rapidly and patients can now live longer and have better treatment options. The mortality rate of lung cancer has decreased because of successful treatments and earlier detection.

PFSP Specialty Pharmacy provides patients and their physicians an exceptionally high standard of care with our growing team of specialized pharmacists and staff. Our dedicated team of pharmacists focus on improving adherence for patients and work to find an approach that works best for them. Bringing a fresh take on what a Specialty Pharmacy can and should be, we are committed to the care of our patients. We take pride in being an ethical resource within our community and strive each day to help our patients live enriching and full lives.