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Indiana ranks among worst states for lung cancer, why early detection is key

Covid Lungs
Posted at 3:52 PM, Nov 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 10:04:55-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday marks the last day of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

A new report from the American Lung Association details Indiana being ranked 44th in the nation for the rate of new cases of lung cancer. As highlighted in the American Lung Association's '2022 State of Lung Cancer' report, early detection is key.

Monique French was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer in November of 2021. The Avon mom of three went through surgery and radiation.

"I had a cough that wouldn't go away, and thank God that I listened to my body," French said. She continued, "All I was thinking about is how do I get home to my little boys? How do I make sure that they don't see that mommy's sick?"

In Indiana, 7.1% of those at high risk are screened and Black Hoosiers "are least likely to be diagnosed early."

"The reality is these important screen things are out there, but we just haven't done a great job of letting Hoosiers know what's out there, and what's available," Tiffany Nichols with the Indiana Chapter of the American Lung Association said.

The Indiana chapter of the American Lung Association is hoping to better these numbers by offering insight to Hoosiers and through legislation.

Their hope with legislation is:

  • Increasing funding for tobacco prevention programs
  • Raise the cigarette tax
  • Radon testing and mitigation

French added her cough that led to a diagnosis last year was misdiagnosed by doctors for two years prior. She credits her background in public health for pushing her to get answers. At one point before her cancer journey, she worked for the American Lung Association.

French's advice to Hoosiers: "If something doesn't feel right, If it's not right, continue to press for it. Talk to your doctor. Find someone who's going to listen to you because you don't know — that could save your life."

Right now, French undergoes "close watch" scans every three months. She ended radiation in March and was never a smoker.

Currently, 14.2 million Americans meet the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for screening.

Under these guidelines, a person is eligible for lung cancer screening if they are between 50-80 years of age, have a 20-pack-year history (one pack/day for 20 years, two packs/day for 10 years) and are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years.

Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org.

Click to learn more.

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