Calculate Pack/Years: How To Measure How Much You Smoke | Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center



If you’re a current or former smoker, have you ever wondered how much your smoking history actually affects your risk? Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center’s Lung Cancer Screening Program uses a handy metric to help patients assess their smoking history and determine if they should seek lung cancer screening known as pack/year .

“To calculate the number of years of packs you have smoked, multiply the number of packs you smoke per day by the number of years you have smoked. That total number is your years/number pack,” says Nikia Clark, Senior Outreach and Education Officer at the Office of Community Outreach and Prevention.

Patients will be referred for lung cancer screening if they:

  • Have a history of at least 20 packs/years of smoking
  • Are between the ages of 50 and 79
  • Actively smoked in the past 15 years

(Additional risk factors include a history of cancer and a work history related to environmental toxins).

Once this number of packs/year is calculated, the Roswell Park Lung Cancer Screening Program determines a patient’s next course of action. Using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) – better and safer imaging than X-rays – and bronchoscopy, the Roswell Park Lung Cancer Screening Program monitors high-risk patients, detecting potentially cancerous nodules at their earliest and most treatable stage.

Not all nodules are cancerous, in fact many are benign. The only way to know for sure is to have a biopsy, or a small piece of the nodule, removed so that our pathologists who focus on lung cancers can analyze it.

Clark says using the pack/year calculator as part of the lung cancer screening program is crucial because it saves lives.

“Lung cancer causes more deaths than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined,” she says. “Only 6% of people eligible for lung cancer screening get tested. We need to increase testing rates to save lives! »

Her office helps establish community outreach initiatives focused on cancer education and awareness and the promotion of breast, colorectal, cervical, prostate and lung cancer screening.

She adds: “We also need to educate the communities most at risk and offer services to help reduce their risk, such as smoking cessation aids. We know that those most at risk of cancer also suffer the most from the burden of cancer. We need more resources and more accessibility to access screening.

One program that does just that is Roswell AIR (Awareness, Information and Resources). This lung cancer education program:

  • Defines lung cancer
  • Educates participants on ways to assess and reduce their risk of lung cancer
  • Discusses the importance of lung cancer screening for eligible individuals

“Roswell AIR was implemented in high-risk communities where data showed lung cancer and smoking rates were more prevalent,” Clark says. “This includes areas on the East Side of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, rural western New York and our Hispanic/Latino communities.”

Additionally, Roswell Park recently announced the deployment of Eddy — Early Detection Driven to You. A mobile lung cancer screening truck equipped with state-of-the-art screening technology, Eddy will bring lifesaving lung cancer screening to New Yorkers who need it most, especially medically underserved and racially diverse populations. Patients can get a low-dose CT scan in just 30 seconds.

Meet Eddy!

Learn more about Roswell Park’s new Mobile Lung Cancer Screening Program and sign up to find out when Eddy is in your area!

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