Screening plays a vital role as part of secondary preventive measures, especially among the most at-risk populations. The level of disease prevention involves steps taken to diagnose a disease early and implement timely treatment. It prevents more severe problems emanating from the disease. Nurse practitioners help patients to establish the possibility of an infection during the early stages to prevent further progression. While many health conditions might require early screening, some, such as lung cancer, require preventive attention due to the high risk among heavy smokers.
The epidemiologic data reveal a high prevalence of lung cancer in the United States. Both small cell and non-small cell lung cancer rate second in terms of the common cancers in women and men in the country (American Cancer Society, 2019). It accounts for 13% of all new cases of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (2019), approximately 228,150 new cases (111,710 in women and 116,440 in men) in 2019 were recorded. In addition, about 142,670 deaths from the disease (66,020 in women and 76,650 in men) in the same year were documented. This condition is the leading cause of death in the country, indicating the seriousness of the illness and the need for screening for timely intervention.
The selected instrument is lung cancer screening, which is one of the guidelines and recommendations of the United States Preventive Task Force A and B Recommendations. These guidelines recommend a single screening per year for lung cancer using a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). Considering that most of the lung cancer deaths occur among older patients (65 years or above), it is important for screening to target people almost this age and at high risk. Therefore, the screening will target adults aged 55-80 who have a history of smoking. The target population should have 30 pack-year smoking history, are current smokers or have stopped smoking within the last 15 years (U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce, 2013). These people are at high risk, and timely testing will inform successful treatment and prognosis.
The nurse practitioner should understand the risk factors to establish the need for screening and the correct assessment. The main risk factor for lung cancer is smoking (Islami, Torre, & Jemal, 2015). Heavy smokers are at a very high risk of developing lung cancer. Therefore, individuals who have a long history of smoking will be targeted for the screening. The risk assessment and testing should be conducted annually among current smokers and those who have quit within the past 15 years. Those who have stopped smoking for more than 15 years do not require regular screening. Understanding the risk factors is critical to target the right population, assess, and implement preventive and treatment measures appropriately. Individuals at a high risk of lung cancer should continue screening until the level of risk declines. They should continue with the screening until they are no longer at risk or feel they do not benefit from the process.
As it is evident from the analysis, lung cancer screening is critical among individuals at a high risk of suffering from the condition. It is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the United States. It is common among current and past heavy smokers. Thus, such people require early screening for timely intervention. Nurse practitioners should understand the most effective treatment procedure to implement in case the screening results are positive. Besides, the success of treatment depends on the stage of the disease.