Lung screenings can prevent cancer deaths

CARBONDALE, IL – Lung cancer rates are dropping nationally, but the opposite is true in southern Illinois. That’s because of high smoking rates.

Steve Naas started smoking when he was 16. Now he, works at a liquor store in Carbondale. He said it’s hard to quit.

“Working with people that smoke a lot, they come in smelling like cigarettes. I’m like, I can go for one of those,” said Naas.

On social media, many of you said you know someone who is living with or died from lung cancer. Healthy Southern Illinois Delta Network said death rates from lung cancer are higher in this part of the state. It’s one reason why a year ago doctors started providing preventative CT screenings.

“It’s only about 10 percent of the radiation exposure of the normal chest CT scan. It’s very quick. It takes less than 10 seconds. It takes very thin cuts,” said Southern Illinois Care Cancer Institute Medical Director Mary Rosenow.

If you’re thinking about getting screened, there are a few qualifications. You have to 55 to 80 years old, a current smoker or a former smoker who quit less than 15 years ago, and to have smoked at least 30 packs a year.

Naas tries not to focus on the bad.

“I do have a history of lung cancer and other cancer in my family. I do think about it sometimes. Try to think on the bright side, I guess,” Naas said.

But, one day he might not have a choice, and he understands knowledge could save his life.

Through Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and private insurance companies, the CT screening are provided with no out-of-pocket expense.  A screening for lung cancer requires a referral from your doctor.

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