November 15, 2015
How to encourage loved ones to get spiral CT lung cancer screening
BY Kellie Bramlet
Spiral CT lung cancer screening can help save lives. Current smokers (or former smokers who quit in the past 15 years) and those who smoke about 30 packs of cigarettes a year can participate in lung cancer screening.
But cancer screening can be scary. If your loved ones qualify for lung cancer screening, they may be hesitant to undergo screening because they believe they don't have time or they're afraid of the results. But participating in lung cancer screening could save their lives.
We spoke with Myrna Godoy, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Diagnostic Radiology, and Jeremy Erasmus, M.D., professor of Diagnostic Radiology, to learn how to convince your loved ones to undergo lung cancer screening.
Here's their advice for encouraging your loved ones to seek spiral CT lung cancer screening.
1. Stress that early detection increases the chances of beating lung cancer.
Lung cancer is easiest to treat in its early stages. But lung cancer symptoms often don't appear until the disease has spread. This is why lung cancer screening is so important.
"You want to catch it before you notice symptoms, and spiral CT lung cancer screening is the best way to do that," Godoy says. If lung cancer is caught early, treatment may be as simple as a minimally invasive procedure or isolated radiation.
But if the cancer progresses to advanced stages, the chances of survival decrease, and patients will have to endure more aggressive treatment.
2. Explain how easy it can be.
Lung cancer screening is a quick and painless process. Unlike many CT scans, the spiral CT scan used for lung cancer screening doesn't require patients to drink an oral contrast, a liquid drink that, after consumption, helps your care team read the scans more clearly. The whole process shouldn't take more than 30 minutes.
"Patients are in and out," Erasmus says.
3. Let them know that spiral CT lung cancer screening is covered by insurance.
If your loved one meets the qualifications, spiral CT lung cancer screening will be covered by his or her insurance company or Medicare with no deductible.
"This is a huge advantage for patients," Erasmus says.
4. Encourage your loved one to quit smoking, if he or she hasn't already.
Smoking is responsible for 87% of all lung cancers and 30% of all cancer deaths. If your loved one is a smoker, encouraging him or her to quit smoking and get screened for lung cancer. It can help keep your loved one get and stay healthy for years to come.
If your loved one decides to get spiral CT lung cancer screening at MD Anderson, he or she will receive information about our free Tobacco Treatment Program, which can provide resources to quit smoking.
5. Tell your loved one that a spiral CT lung cancer screening can help catch other diseases.
The same spiral CT scan that can detect lung cancer also can potentially spot other cancers, such as thyroid cancer or heart and lung problems. This is important since smokers are more likely to develop these health issues as well.
6. Set a good example.
Show your loved one that you're serious about cancer prevention and early detection by staying up to date on your own cancer screening exams. Need a mammogram? Schedule one and tell your loved one about the experience. Due for your colonoscopy? Make an appointment for one.
Don't wait to tell your loved one that you're taking care of yourself and want him or her to do the same. It could help save a life - and give you more time together.
Read more about lung cancer screening in Focused on Health.
Lung cancer is one of the cancers MD Anderson is focusing on as part of our Moon Shots Program to dramatically reduce cancer deaths. Learn more about our Lung Cancer Moon Shot.