Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women because it’s usually not discovered until it’s in an advanced state. However, to combat that fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, when lung cancer is detected at its earliest stage, and is surgically removed, it can result in a person having a five-year survival rate closer to 70 percent. Because of this, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends lung cancer screening in high-risk populations, such as those with a smoking history.
Research published by the National Lung Screening Trial Team in August, 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed several interesting findings regarding the efficacy of low dose CT Scanning of the chest as a screening tool for lung cancer.
In this landmark trial, more than 50,000 persons at high risk for lung cancer at 33 U.S. medical centers were randomly assigned to undergo annual screenings with either low-dose CT or chest radiography. The authors concluded that screening with the use of low-dose CT reduces mortality from lung cancer by 20 percent in this population. Low-dose CT lung cancer screening in a high-risk population also is recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
CT Scan Screening for Early Lung Cancer Detection
CT Scanning is an imaging procedure that uses special X-ray equipment to create a series of detailed pictures, or scans, of areas inside the body. CT Scans give a clearer and more detailed picture of the lungs than X-rays, which gives physicians an edge because they can see masses in the lungs earlier and better and more effective treatments can then be recommended to help patients stay ahead of lung cancer. At Long Beach Memorial, we use state-of-the-art imaging technology, including the 320 CT Slice Scanner, to get the highest resolution scans using the lowest amount of radiation to the person being scanned.
Despite these findings, CT Scanning also has risks which is why it is important to understand the requirements and criteria for testing. To qualify for an early lung cancer detection CT Scan screening you should:
- Be without any lung cancer symptoms.
- Have no history of lung cancer.
- Not be pregnant.
- Be 55 - 74 years of age and have a 30 pack year history of smoking or greater, and smoking cessation less than 15 years; or be at least 50 years of age, with a 20 pack year history of smoking or greater and one additional risk factor (other than second hand smoke), which can include:
- High radon exposure.
- Occupational exposure (silica, cadmium, asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, diesel fumes and nickel).
- Cancer history (lymphomas, head and neck cancer, or smoking related cancers).
- Family history of lung cancer.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis.
People who think that they have an increased risk of lung cancer and are interested in screening with low-dose multi-slice CT should discuss the appropriateness and the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening with their doctors. A doctor’s referral also is needed for this screening.