When it comes to your health, the basics are always en vogue: a good diet, plenty of rest, exercise and being proactive. 

The American Lung Association is stressing the importance of these behaviors for those in the higher-risk category for lung cancer. The organization suggests certain patients get a low-dose CT lung cancer screening.

The Saved by the Scan public service campaign is a push to get those who have already been exposed to risk factors to get screened to ensure no significant damage has been done. It can also detect damage sooner than later.

"If you smoked, get scanned," implores one message.

On its website, the American Lung Association states there is no co-pay necessary for the first scan if you meet high-risk criteria as well as being 55 to 80 years old with private insurance or 55 to 77 with Medicare coverage.

How important is early detection? If found before spreading, the survival rate of five years raises to 56%.  

And Alaskans need to pay special attention. Only 16.6% of cases are caught at the early stage, nearly 5% below the national average of 21.5%, and the lowest in the nation for states surveyed in the American Lung Association's 2019 State of Lung Cancer report.

"The state still has a lot of work to do to make sure that more of those at high risk for lung cancer are screened," the report states.

So, who's considered high risk? The American Lung Association defines high-risk as:

  • 55 to 80 years of age
  • Have a 30-pack-year history of smoking (this means one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
  • And are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years

Quitting smoking is a crucial part and there's help available. The Freedom from Smoking program has assisted more than a million people in cessation. Resources are also available from Alaska's Tobacco Quit Line online or at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669). 

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