EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and the American Cancer Society has put out new screening guidelines that increase eligibility.
According to the World Health Organization, Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. but with updated screenings, the American Cancer Society hopes it will increase early detection.
The new guidelines expand the recommendation of screenings to people 50 to 80 years of age, and who have a 20-year or greater pack-year history.
This now regardless of smoking status or how long ago someone has quit smoking, which was previously not the case.
“We're no longer taking into consideration the years since quitting. So if someone has quit smoking 15 years, 20 years, and they still meet the eligibility as far as the smoking amount, they can still qualify for the exam, which is something that has changed before," said Claudia Sanchez, Nurse and Cancer Navigator for the Hospitals of Providence.
Sanchez said 80 percent of lung cancers are due to smoking and with this change, those most affected will get a chance to catch it earlier and lookout for symptoms.
"The symptoms of lung cancer includes a persistent cough, spitting up blood pain, chest pain that may be more painful with deep breathing or with coughing," she said.
She adds this may also serve as a good first step to get more people to quit smoking.
"Most people, once they find out that they don't have any lesions at the time, that kind of gives them more motivated to quit smoking because they feel like they've been given another opportunity," said Sanchez.