Prevention and Early Detection

Empowering you to prevent and detect lung cancer

Anyone is at risk of getting lung cancer, but we know that there are several things that we can do to decrease our risk and also catch lung cancer early. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the survival rate. Here are some resources to support prevention and early detection!

Smoking Cessation Resources

If you are a current smoker, the sooner you quit smoking the sooner you can lower your risk for getting diagnosed with lung cancer and other cancers and chronic diseases as well. There are many resources for quitting smoking. LCI recommends the NC Quitline and that you also have a conversation with your medical provider.

QuitlineNC provides free cessation services to any North Carolina resident who needs help quitting tobacco use. Quit Coaching is available in different forms, which can be used separately or together, to help any tobacco user give up tobacco.

Radon

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Each year upwards of 22,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer.
What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is formed when uranium decays in the soil. Uranium is in geological formations throughout North Carolina. When homes or other buildings are built on top of these geological formations, radon is pulled into the home and can concentrate to dangerous levels. Exposure to radon gas has been found to cause lung cancer.
How do I know if I should test for radon?
Every home in North Carolina is prone to having a level of radon gas and the NC Radon Program recommends that all homes be tested. This includes apartments, mobile homes, homes with basements, and homes without basements. Radon gas is natural and comes from the decay of uranium found in rocks, soil and building materials such as concrete. Testing your home for radon gas will help you determine the amount of radon you may be breathing.
How do I test for radon?
Testing your home for radon is as simple as opening a package, placing a radon detector in a designated area, and after the prescribed number of days (usually two to seven days), sealing the detector back in the package and mailing it to a lab for evaluation. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. The U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L be repaired to reduce the amount of radon entering the indoor air.
Download these facts sheets about radon:

Lung Cancer Screening Information

As of 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has revised its existing lung cancer screening recommendations with new guidance which lowers screening age and includes individuals with a shorter smoking history.

High-Risk Populations Are:

1. People ages 50-80 with a history of heavy cigarette smoking for at least 20 “pack years”. For example, people who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years, or people who smoked two packs per day for 15 years.

2. Currently smoking or having stopped smoking within the past 15 years

What is LDCT (low-dose computed tomography)?
LDCT is the only recommended screening test for lung cancer. During the scan, you will lie on a table and the imaging machine uses a low dose of radiation to take a detailed image of your lungs. The screening only takes a few minutes and is not painful.
Who should be screened?

Yearly lung cancer screening is recommended for people who:

  • Have smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years
  • Have smoked two packs of cigarettes per day for 10 years
  • Currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years
  • Between 50 and 80 years old
What are the risks of LDCT?
With any kind of screening there are risks. The risks of a LDCT include:

  • It is possible that the screening can provide a false-positive result. It could lead to follow-up tests and surgeries for further investigation.
  • Lung cancer screening can lead to an overdiagnosis, which is when a screening finds cancer that may have never caused an issue for the patient. This can lead to unnecessary treatment.
  • Radiation from repeated screenings can cause cancer in otherwise healthy people. However, lung cancer screening utilizes a low-dose CT scan, so radiation exposure will be reduced.
  • Due to these risk factors, only those that are eligible for lung cancer screening should be screened.
Does insurance cover lung cancer screening?
  • Most insurance plans and Medicare help pay for recommended lung cancer screening tests.
  • It may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay.
  • For more information, visit www.medicare.gov or check with your insurance plan to find out what is covered.
Risk factors for lung cancer that are not included in the screening guidelines:
  • Exposure to radon gas
  • Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • If you are concerned about any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about your concerns and if screening may be appropriate.
Additional screening resources:
Visit Should I Screen to use their lung risk calculator to determine if screening is a good choice for you.
Download our Screening Assessment Tool to assess your risk of getting lung cancer.