According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. While lung cancer can affect anyone, it is most common in individuals who smoke or have a long history of smoking. In fact, over 80 percent of lung cancer is a direct result of smoking.
Inhalation of carbon monoxide, along with the chemicals and carcinogens in cigarettes, causes damage to the sensitive tissues within the lungs. While the human body is an amazing healer, long term exposure to cigarette smoke can cause irreparable damage to the lungs and dramatically increase the risk of lung cancer. While no amount of cigarette smoke is safe, there is a direct correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked and the chances of developing lung cancer.
How do I know if I have lung cancer?
Unfortunately, lung cancer rarely produces symptoms until the cancer has spread. Most cases of lung cancer are diagnosed when the patient is in stage 3 or 4; the cancer has already spread to other areas of the body. Once cancer has spread to the brain, bones, liver, or other lung, the five year cervical rate drops to 6%. Lung cancer patients diagnosed in stages 1 and 2 have a five year survival rate of 60%.
The good news is that technology has provided us a way of catching lung cancer at an early stage: Low Dose Lung Cancer Screening! Using low dose CT (Cat Scan) we can screen high risk patients and potentially catch lung cancer at an early stage before it has spread to other areas of the body.
Am I a candidate for low dose lung cancer screening?
Anyone can receive a low dose lung cancer screening, but certain individuals are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. This includes those who:
- Have a 30 pack-year* history of smoking
- Between the ages of 55-77 years of age
- Current smoker or have quit within the past 15 years
*Pack history is based off number of packs per day smoked multiplied by number of years of smoking. For example, smoking 3 packs per day for 10 years would be a 30 pack-year smoking history.
In order to get the CT lung screening exam, you will need to schedule a visit with your medical provider to discuss the need for lung cancer screening. During this session, shared information and decision making should be incorporated to determine if a low dose lung screening exam is right for you. Your provider will also review smoking cessation options, comorbidities, and treatment options if lung disease is detected on the exam.
What is a low dose lung screening CT examination like?
Low dose lung screening exams utilize CT scanners with special software. You will be asked to lie down on a table and moved into the CT gantry. The test requires 2 or 3 breath holds, and the test takes about 10 minutes in total. When finished, you will be asked to remain in the waiting room for about 10 minutes while a CD is created and given to you for your records.
A board certified radiologist at The Radiology Clinic will interpret the exam and provide results to your ordering medical provider. You should schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor to review the results of the exam and to determine the next steps forward.
How do I schedule my appointment?
The Radiology Clinic is a participant in the LCSR (Lung Cancer Screening Registry). Because our practice is a registered participant, we are able to bill insurance carriers for this exam. Medicare, as well as many other major insurance companies, cover low dose lung screening exams to the patient. In the event that your insurance provider does not cover the exam, or if you choose not to use your insurance, we offer competitive self-pay pricing for this study. Please call us today if you have any questions, would like more information, or if you are ready to schedule your appointment!