American Lung Association report has important news for Mainers
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The American Lung Association has released its 5th annual “State of Lung Cancer” report.
The report is based on indicators such as new cases, survival, early diagnosis, treatment, and screening rates for each state in the U-S.
Lance Boucher of the American Lung Association is the Director of Advocacy for Maine.
He said while some numbers are improving in the state, one important number is not.
“Unfortunately, Maine has some of the highest rates of lung cancer in the nation. We have the fifth highest incidence rate of lung cancer in the country. We have a lot more eligible Mainers who could be screened because only 11.8% of Mainers who are eligible for lung cancer screening are getting screened. So, we need to do a better job about raising awareness,” said Boucher.
While many associate lung cancer with tobacco use, folks often assume they have no chance of getting lung cancer if they don’t use tobacco products.
Boucher said that’s not necessarily the case.
“Anyone who has lungs can get lung cancer. There are a number of risk factors, but radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. And Maine, unfortunately, lots of pockets of Maine have high rates of radon, and it’s easy to detect radon through an at home do it yourself kit, but radon is an odorless, colorless gas, so you don’t necessarily know by living in your home if you have high levels of radon without having a test,” said Boucher.
Boucher added radon can vary from home to home and levels can also change over time, so it’s a good idea to test every two to three years.
If your home has never been tested, he recommends buying a test kit at a hardware store.
Although there are factors that could lead to lung cancer and the numbers are high now, he says more people getting screened is key.
“You can go to savebythescan.org. It’s a website of the American Lung Association, and take a three question quiz that tells you if you are a candidate for screening, and then provide you with information to have a conversation with your doctor to take the steps to see if screening is right for you, and early detection is really critical in saving lives, and this screen is how we can detect lung cancer at an earlier stage when more treatments are available.”, said Boucher.
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