Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and has one of the lowest survival rates compared to other major cancers – but early detection through a new, low-dose CT scan provides lifesaving hope. According to the National Cancer Institute, when screening is used to detect lung cancer before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves to over 60%. However, although 14.2 million Americans are eligible, less than 6% of those at high risk for lung cancer have been screened. *
In 2017, the Ad Council partnered with the American Lung Association to address this issue with a campaign called “Saved By The Scan,” which set out to educate former and current smokers about the importance of early lung cancer detection and the lifesaving potential of getting screened.
Since its inception, the campaign has found success in reaching individuals at high risk for lung cancer by encouraging them to take a two-minute quiz to see if they are eligible for a scan. This month, the Ad Council and American Lung Association celebrated an exciting milestone in our efforts to save lives, with more than one million people having completed the online quiz since the campaign launched.
Twenty-five percent of respondents discovered that they were at high risk for lung cancer and eligible for screening – and surveys show that the impact the quiz has had on their lives goes beyond awareness. Prior to launching the campaign, just 26% of former smokers talked to their doctor about the scan, and only 18% got scanned. As of 2022, results show that on average 35% of former smokers talked to their doctor about lung cancer screening and 28% had gotten scanned. Additionally, 47% of people who are aware of the campaign through ads, the website, or the online quiz have talked to their doctor about lung cancer screening, compared to 28% of those not aware of the campaign.
The personal stories from the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Heroes further illustrates the lifesaving impact the campaign has had across the nation. Lung cancer survivor, Diane Wright, saw a “Saved By The Scan” billboard while driving and said the message stuck with her. A few months later, Wright mentioned the billboard to her doctor, and they scheduled a lung cancer screening that ultimately saved her life.
“I am a stage one success story, something the oncologist said he doesn’t see often,” said Wright. “If I had not acted on getting the lung scan done, I would not have known that lung cancer was growing in my body since I had absolutely no symptoms. I will forever be grateful to that billboard.”
In an ever-evolving media landscape, the campaign continues to reach high-risk individuals through traditional and present-day avenues, including strategically targeted programmatic efforts. While the barriers to spark widespread behavioral change are often great, the campaign is an example of how the power of pairing a clear call-to-action with the right creative message can break down barriers and create tangible change for millions of people.
*Under the USPSTF guidelines, a person is eligible for lung cancer screening if they are between 50-80 years of age, have a 20 pack-year smoking history (1 pack/day for 20 years, 2 packs/day for 10 years), and currently smoke, or have quit within the last 15 years.