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American Lung Association: Six Thousand Virginians Diagnosed With Lung Cancer in Virginia 2019, But Outcomes Can Be Improved

Doctor Mahajan
Dr. “Bobby” Mahajan, American Lung Association Medical Spokesperson, Director of Interventional Pulmonology and the Complex Airways Disease Program, Inova Fairfax Hospital. (Photo: American Lung Association)

The American Lung Association’s “State of Lung Cancer 2019” said almost six thousand Virginians will be diagnosed this year and though the survival rate is improving many more could be saved with early screening.

Lung cancer is deadly, said Dr. “Bobby” Mahajan.

“Compared to even breast, colon and prostate combined.”

Mahajan repairs lung damage at Inova, Fairfax, and volunteers for the American Lung Association in Virginia. He said outcomes are improving — although, early detection is the key. Especially for high risk people. 

“Ninety percent of lung cancer patients are either past or current smokers, typically 55 to 80 years old in age, have at least a 30-pack history of smoking,” Mahajan said. “This really means one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years and are a current smoker or quit within the last 15 years.”

 Mahajan said it is important for them to get low dose CT scans regularly.

“The American Lung Association has really put together an excellent program at www.lung.org, which allows us to do a questionnaire to see is patients will qualify for lung cancer screening as most insurance companies will cover this, just similar to breast cancer and colon cancer screening,” Mahajan said. 

He added that the 5-year survival rate is now 21 percent, up from 17 percent a decade ago.

“So when we talk about lung cancer in general, we are in a decade, a time where there are great advancements, not only in early detection, surgical resection but also advanced therapies such as genetic and immune therapies that will really improve the outcomes of patients with minimum side effects,” Mahajan said. “So what I want to stress is that early screening allows us to identify these patients earlier, get them to surgery earlier to improve their outcomes and survival on a long-term basis.”

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