You probably know that there are routine lifesaving screenings available (and recommended) for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. But did you know that until recently, there was no clinically proven and easily administered screening available to find early-stage lung cancer? Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women worldwide. It kills nearly 160,000 people in the U.S. each year. This is because lung cancer is not usually diagnosed until symptoms develop. But thankfully, early detection can save lives.
Hamilton Diagnostics Center now offers low-dose computerized tomography (CT) scans to screen for lung cancer. The screening consists of a CT scan that uses special X-ray technology to obtain images from different angles. These images are then combined to show a cross-section of the lungs. This type of low-dose CT scan administers 90 percent less radiation than a conventional CT scan and it only takes about 10 seconds to complete! No medications are given and no needles are used. No fasting is necessary and you don’t even have to change out of your regular clothes.
Approximately 85 percent of lung cancer occurs in current or former cigarette smokers. However, the good news is that by receiving a low-dose CT scan annually, lung cancer can be discovered at its earliest, most treatable stage.
“Current and former smokers can highly benefit from this new screening,” says radiologist E.C. Strickland, Jr., MD. “As we know from breast cancer, colorectal, and prostate screenings, early detection saves lives.”
Screenings are available to those who:
Are age 55 to 77
Is an active smoker or quit less than 15 years ago
Have a 30-pack-year history (To calculate your “pack year” history, multiply the number of packs per day you usually smoke by the number of years you have smoked. For example, two packs a day x 15 years would amount to 30 “pack years”.)
Receive a written order from a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant
Patients who have experienced the following are not able to receive the screening at this time:
Not able to lie flat for 10 minutes
An upper respiratory infection or pneumonia in the last 12 weeks
Received a CT scan of his or her lungs in the last 12 months
A previous history of lung cancer
“Current smokers should stop smoking and receive a CT scan to screen for lung cancer,” says oncologist Bill McKay, MD. “Former smokers who have quit smoking within the last 15 years will benefit from this screening as well. This new screening can catch lung cancer in its earliest stage with a much better chance of a cure. We are so excited that we now have this tool available to our community.”