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Published on December 11, 2013

CT Scans to Save Thousands of Lives

Technology can be a double-edged sword, giving us the power to do more than ever before—for better or worse. Fortunately, technology has proven to be particularly beneficial to modern medicine, as it helps save lives and improve society for the better.

The latest way it’s doing so? CT screening for lung cancer.

Many doctors are now hopeful that lung cancer screening will become a regular practice for high-risk individuals, ultimately extending the lives of people all across the country.

Unlike x-rays, which provide a 2-D internal image of the body, CT scans provide doctors with a thorough, 3-D view of a scanned organ.

“A CT scan takes slices through the body that allows the radiologist to look at any structure form any angle he wants, which provides a much more detailed evaluation of the chest and even small cancers,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, a radiologist at Crozer-Keystone Health System. CT scans can also detect nodules and help doctors identify the extent of lung damage caused by smoking. 

To better understand how a CT scan works, Dr. Rubin likens the scan to a loaf of raisin bread. “Looking at a loaf of raisin bread standing up, you’ll see a few raisins. But if you slice the bread into multiple pieces, you’ll see that there are many more raisins within the bread,” he says. “With lung cancer, we’re able to see small nodules and cancers with far greater accuracy than we would with just a chest x-ray. Doing so allows us to catch cancer at a much earlier and curable stage.”

According to a large research study, CT scans can potentially reduce the risk of lung cancer death by 20 percent—a significant number when you consider that lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer-related deaths. Almost 90 percent of those deaths occur because the cancer was found too late.

Currently, CT screening exams are recommended to those who are considered to be high-risk individuals. This means they are within an age range of 55 to 74 years and either have a smoking history equivalent to a pack a day for 30 years, or have quit smoking within the last 15 years.

However, many doctors are pushing for these screening exams to become more of a regular practice since not enough individuals are being checked.

“The CT screening program at Crozer-Keystone Health System has been one of the most effective cancer detection processes,” said Dr. Rubin. “And I hope this encourages patients to live a healthier lifestyle, quit smoking, and further reduce their risk of health consequences related to smoking.”

For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org. You can also call 1-866-695-HOPE (4673) to request an appointment with a physician who cares for cancer patients. Find more information on the lung cancer screening program at Crozer-Keystone Health System at http://lungscreening.crozerkeystone.org.

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