What is a Lung Cancer Scan?
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is responsible for 1.8 million deaths annually. However, early detection can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery. That’s why it’s so important to understand the different types of lung cancer screenings available and who should be screened. In this post, we’ll be diving into the specifics of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans, the only recommended screening test for lung cancer, and answering all your burning questions about this important test.
II. What is a Lung Cancer Scan?
A lung cancer scan, also known as a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan, is a non-invasive test that uses a low dose of radiation to produce detailed images of your lungs. During the test, you will lie on a table and an X-ray machine will take a series of pictures of your lungs. The entire process only takes a few minutes and is not painful. These images are then analyzed by a radiologist to determine if there are any suspicious growths or abnormalities present.
III. Who Should Be Screened for Lung Cancer?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends yearly lung cancer screening with LDCT for people who meet the following criteria:
– A 20pack-year or more smoking history
– Currently smoking or have quit within the past 15 years
– Are between the ages of 50 and 80
A pack-year is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years that the individual has smoked. For example, if someone has smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years, they would have a 20 pack-year smoking history.
Screening is only recommended for individuals who have no symptoms of lung cancer. This is because the screening is meant to detect the disease early, before any symptoms appear, so that treatment can be more successful.
IV. Risks of Screening
While lung cancer screening can be incredibly beneficial, it also comes with some risks. Here are three things to keep in mind when considering a lung cancer screening:
1. False-positive results: A lung cancer screening test can suggest that a person has lung cancer when no cancer is present. This is called a false-positive result. False-positive results can lead to follow-up tests and surgeries that are not needed and may have more risks.
2. Overdiagnosis: A lung cancer screening test can find cases of cancer that may never have caused a problem for the patient. This is called overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis can lead to treatment that is not needed. Therefore, it is important to consider the potential harms and benefits of a lung cancer screening test when making the decision to be screened. A discussion with a physician is recommended to weigh the risks and benefits and determine whether a lung cancer screening test is appropriate for a particular patient.
3. Radiation risks: Repeated LDCT tests can cause cancer in otherwise healthy people. That is why lung cancer screening is recommended only for adults who are at high risk for developing the disease because of their smoking history and age, and who do not have a health problem that substantially limits their life expectancy or their ability or willingness to have lung surgery, if needed.
V. Talk to Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor if you are thinking about getting screened for lung cancer. They can help determine if a lung cancer screening is right for you and refer you to a high-quality screening facility. This is particularly important if you are at high risk due to your smoking history and age or if you have a health problem that might limit your life expectancy or ability to have lung surgery if needed.
VI. Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer. While lung cancer screening can detect the disease early, it’s not a substitute for quitting smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, quitting smoking at any age can reduce your risk of lung cancer, and the risk decreases the longer you remain smoke-free. Also, avoiding secondhand smoke can reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.
VII. When to Stop Screening
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that yearly lung cancer screening stop when the person being screened meets one of the following criteria:
– Turns 81 years old
– Has not smoked in 15 or more years
– Develops a health problem that makes them unwilling or unable to have surgery if lung cancer is found
VIII. Insurance and Medicare Coverage
Most insurance plans and Medicare help pay for recommended lung cancer screening tests. If you’re considering a lung cancer screening, Check with your insurance plan to find out what benefits are covered. For more information about Medicare coverage, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1 (877) 486-2048.
Lung cancer screening is an important tool in the fight against this devastating disease. Understanding the screening process and who should be screened can greatly increase the chances of early detection and successful treatment. While lung cancer screening can be incredibly beneficial, it also comes with some risks. So, talk to your doctor to determine if a lung cancer screening is right for you. Additionally, quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke is the best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer. Medmo is here to provide you with more information and support, so if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out.
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