Here's Why Black Americans Aren't Being Screened For Lung Cancer

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The current system that determines which patients receive lung cancer screenings is significantly underserving Black people in America, studies show.

United Press International reports that Black Americans are 50 percent less likely to be screened for lung cancer compared to their white counterparts. 

"The racial and ethnic disparities we observed are troubling, and the reasons for these disparities need to be identified so that they can be addressed," Dr. Alison Rustagi said to United Press International.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommends low-dose (radiation) computed tomography (CT) to identify lung cancer in people who don’t have symptoms or a history of the disease. The screening is determined by a patient’s age, how long one has smoked, and how many packs per day an individual smokes. 

However, an oncology study found that only 1/3 of Black people with lung cancer met the criteria for a yearly lung cancer screening, while more than 1/2 of white lung cancer patients reached the screening guidelines. 

Melinda Aldrich, who led the study, noted that race-related differences in risk and smoking patterns weren’t a part of the lung cancer screening guidelines.

Aldrich said in a statement, “There’s evidence that African Americans have a higher baseline risk for [developing] lung cancer compared to whites.”

Research also revealed that people who said they had poor health tripled their likelihood of receiving a lung cancer screening compared to those who said their health was excellent.  

Black Americans who feel they are in good health and don’t meet the current criteria for lung cancers screenings may be suffering in silence, experts say.

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