Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with lung cancer around the world. Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and can be fatal if not detected early. However, early detection can significantly increase the chances of survival. In this article, we will discuss how to screen for lung cancer and the importance of early detection.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the lungs. It’s usually caused by smoking, but other factors like genetics, exposure to secondhand smoke, and air pollution can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer. There are two primary types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, while SCLC is less common.
Why is early detection important?
Early detection of lung cancer is crucial to improving the chances of survival. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more treatment options are available, and the higher the chances of successful treatment. When lung cancer is detected early, it’s more likely to be confined to the lung, making it easier to remove through surgery or radiation therapy.
Who should get screened for lung cancer?
Screening for lung cancer is recommended for people who are at high risk. If you’re a smoker or a former smoker, you’re at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Other factors that put you at high risk include a family history of lung cancer, exposure to asbestos, exposure to radon, and exposure to other cancer-causing agents.
What are the screening methods for lung cancer?
There are two primary screening methods for lung cancer: low-dose CT scans and chest X-rays. Low-dose CT scans are more effective at detecting lung cancer than chest X-rays, and they’re recommended over chest X-rays for lung cancer screening.
What are low-dose CT scans?
Low-dose CT scans are a type of imaging test that uses X-rays to take pictures of the inside of the body. They’re called low-dose CT scans because they use a lower dose of radiation than a regular CT scan. Low-dose CT scans are more effective at detecting lung cancer than chest X-rays, and the American Cancer Society recommends them for lung cancer screening in people who are at high risk.
What is a chest X-ray?
A chest X-ray is an imaging test that uses X-rays to create pictures of the inside of the chest. A chest X-ray can detect abnormalities in the chest, including lung cancer, but it’s not as effective as a low-dose CT scan for lung cancer screening.
How often should you get screened for lung cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends annual low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening in people who are at high risk. If you’re a smoker or a former smoker, you might need more frequent screening based on your smoking history.
What are the risks of lung cancer screening?
Although low-dose CT scans are effective for detecting lung cancer early, they do come with some risks. The primary risk is radiation exposure, which can increase the risk of cancer. The amount of radiation exposure from a low-dose CT scan is relatively low, but it can add up over time if you get screened every year. Additionally, low-dose CT scans are more likely to identify abnormalities that are not cancer, which can lead to additional tests and procedures.
How can you reduce your risk of developing lung cancer?
The best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer is to avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. If you’re a smoker, quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Other ways to reduce the risk of lung cancer include avoiding exposure to asbestos and other cancer-causing agents, getting regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet.
Lung cancer is a serious disease that can be fatal if not detected early. However, early detection can significantly increase the chances of survival. If you’re at high risk of developing lung cancer, talk to your doctor about screening options. Annual low-dose CT scans are recommended for lung cancer screening in people who are at high risk. It’s also essential to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer by avoiding smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, and other cancer-causing agents.
- Q: What happens during a low-dose CT scan?
- Q: How long does a low-dose CT scan take?
- Q: How much radiation exposure is there from a low-dose CT scan?
- Q: What happens if the low-dose CT scan identifies an abnormality?
- Q: What are the symptoms of lung cancer?
A: During a low-dose CT scan, you lie on a table that slides into the CT scanner. The scanner takes pictures of the inside of your chest, which are then used to create detailed images of your lungs.
A: A low-dose CT scan typically takes less than 10 minutes.
A: A low-dose CT scan exposes you to about the same amount of radiation as a chest X-ray.
A: If the low-dose CT scan identifies an abnormality, your doctor might order additional tests or procedures, such as a biopsy or a PET scan, to determine whether the abnormality is cancerous.
A: Symptoms of lung cancer can include a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, hoarseness, weight loss, and fatigue. However, many people with lung cancer don’t have any symptoms until the cancer has advanced.
- American Cancer Society (2018). Lung Cancer Screening. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/health-care-professionals/american-cancer-society-prevention-screening-guidelines/lung-cancer-screening-guidelines.html
- National Cancer Institute (2019). Lung Cancer Screening (PDQ) – Health Professional Version. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/hp/lung-screening-pdq
- Mayo Clinic (2019). Lung Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lung-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20374620