Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. It kills 160,000 people per year, accounting for 28% of all cancer deaths nationwide. The 5-year survival is only about 15%, but when a lung cancer is diagnosed while still localized (not spread) the 5-year survival increases to over 50%.
The American Cancer Society recently issued guidelines for physicians to initiate a discussion about screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) yearly in individuals 55-74 years of age who have smoked at least a 30-pack-year-history (like one pack per day for 30 years) who are either current smokers or have quit within the last 15 years.
LDCT will miss some lung cancers, will not detect some lung cancers early, and may not necessarily prevent death. Private and public health care insurers are still working out if they will expand insurance coverage to include the cost of LDCT.
First and foremost, to decrease your lung cancer risk stop smoking!