Lung cancer causes the most deaths from cancer in the nation, accounting for about 1 in 4 of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Screening for lung cancer is one of the most effective ways to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages when it is most treatable and even curable. Unfortunately, far too few Americans – only about 6% of eligible patients – are routinely screened for lung cancer, resulting in thousands of preventable deaths every year.
For Lung Cancer Awareness Month and National Smoking Cessation Month, the American College of Surgeons (ACS), a member of the National Lung Cancer Roundtable, is supporting the second annual National Lung Cancer Screening Day on November 11, which aims to enhance access to lung cancer screening and raise awareness of lung cancer among veterans and other at-risk groups.
Recognizing the need to connect all patients, especially those undergoing treatment for cancer, with smoking cessation resources, the ACS Commission on Cancer is also leading efforts to provide empathetic and accessible smoking cessation programs through the Just ASK and Beyond ASK quality improvement projects.
An advocate and leader in lung cancer awareness and smoking cessation resources, Dr. Mullett recently participated in an initiative of President Biden’s cancer panel, Reducing Cancer Care Inequities: Leveraging Technology to Enhance Patient Navigation, and was also part of a forum in June focused on expanding equitable access to smoking cessation programs.
The most effective way to screen for lung cancer is with a low-dose CT scan. While a CT scan may sound intimidating, screening is painless and only takes a few minutes to complete.
For screening to truly make an impact in reducing deaths from lung cancer, more people need to get screened.
November is also Smoking Cessation Awareness Month. While cigarette smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer and kicking the nicotine habit is one the best ways to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, quitting smoking also has tremendous health benefits beyond just preventing lung cancer.
Asking for help can make a huge difference in the ability to quit smoking and develop healthier habits. Everyone deserves empathetic health care, but smoking resources are not always easily accessible or brought up during routine exams or appointments for cancer care.
The American College of Surgeons is leading efforts to incorporate discussions about smoking cessation into patients’ cancer care across US hospitals. Across the country, 776 centers accredited by the ACS Commission on Cancer joined the 2022 Just ASK Quality Improvement Project & Clinical Study, which led to an increase in the number of clinicians asking all new patients about smoking and identifying patients who currently smoke and may benefit from referrals to smoking cessation programs.
The next study, BeyondASK, will focus on empathetic and practical ways clinicians can assist patients with quitting, counseling, and medication, as well as referring patients to specialized programs that fit their needs.
Learn more about these initiatives.
“We need to be having more frank conversations about smoking cessation. Quitting smoking can not only reduce the risk of getting cancer, but it can also reduce the risk of dying from other smoking-related illnesses that may occur during or after cancer treatment. Patients deserve equitable access to these services without facing stigma or judgment.” – Timothy Mullett, MD, MBA, FACS, Chair of the Commission on Cancer