Should You Schedule A Lung Screening? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on June 06, 2014

Should You Schedule A Lung Screening?

Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner

Computed Tomography (CT) screening can detect
85 percent of lung cancers in their earliest stages.

Did you know that more people in the U.S. die from lung cancer than any other kind of cancer? In 2008 (the most recent year the CDC collected data), nearly 210,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and about 160,000 died of the disease.

Metastasis, when cancer spreads to other parts of the body, occurs in at least three quarters of those diagnosed with lung cancer. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is only about 15 percent for all diagnosed. But if you catch it early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 60 percent for stage one patients.

While the majority cancer patients are male, the news is not great for women: there has been a 600 percent increase in the incidence of lung cancer since 1930 and death rates among women with lung cancer in the U.S. are the highest of any in the world.

These are some scary numbers, and they point to the importance of early detection through screenings. A recent study showed that CT screening can detect 85 percent of lung cancers in their earliest stages. Without a CT screening, early detection is very unlikely, as there are rarely obvious symptoms until lung cancer is in a late stage. And that’s usually too late.

Remember – knowledge is power. And you need that knowledge to win the battle against cancer.

If you were a smoker and quit, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear (although stopping does help, and is a very good idea). Stopping smoking is linked to a rapid drop in the risk of coronary artery disease, but the same is not true of lung cancer. Lung cancer has recently surpassed coronary artery disease as the leading cause of death among current and former smokers.

The advanced imaging of a CT scan offers far more detailed than X-rays and can pick up smaller abnormalities. Therefore, even if you’ve had a chest X-ray, you should still schedule a CT scan if you are in an at-risk group. That group includes anyone between the ages of 55 and 74, current or former smokers and/or anyone who has had any kind of cancer.

You may have heard about risks associated with radiation exposure in lung cancer CT screenings, but Crozer-Keystone radiologists employ a special low dose of radiation. The procedure is safe and non-invasive. The amount of exposure is about the same as in a mammogram. The procedure itself takes about 20 seconds and results are generally available within 24 hours.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking or never smoke at all. If you’re a smoker, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs. If you are in the lung cancer at-risk group, click here to learn more about our lung screening program.

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