The nudge they need

How to encourage your loved one to get a cancer screening

These days, pretty much everyone who smokes knows the risks. But that wasn’t true for earlier generations. Many baby boomers and their parents look back with fear and regret at decades spent smoking without giving much thought to their health.

“As someone who had smoked for 46 years … of course I had some apprehension about it,” said Salem resident Nel O., who was one of the first patients screened using low-dose CT at Salem Cancer Institute. “My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer eight years after she quit, so the fact that I quit was a good thing, but I had that shadow hanging over me, like, ‘What if?’”

The good news is, if that “What if?” shadow is hanging over someone you care about, screening may be able to clear it. Here’s how you can encourage someone to get screened:

  1. Come from a place of caring. This is not a time to blame someone for choosing to smoke. Focus on the peace of mind that you will both gain from knowing whether or not cancer is developing.
  2. Share the facts. People screened using low-dose CT have a 20 percent lower chance of dying of lung cancer than those screened with a chest x-ray. With Low-dose CT, patients caught at the earliest and most treatable stage of cancer (stage one), increased from 21 to 40 percent. You can find more facts to share on our FAQ page.
  3. Offer to come along. Sometimes people who smoke feel embarrassed about asking for help. Taking time to join them for the screening appointment shows your support.
  4. Be a sounding board. While the screening itself is quick and painless, waiting for results can be stressful. Reassure your loved one that you will be there for them no matter what the outcome is.

Salem Cancer Institute


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