Written by SMH Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator Amie Miller
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in America, and worldwide. In the US, someone dies of lung cancer every 3 minutes, according to the American Cancer Society.
Approximately 85 percent of lung cancers develop in current or former cigarette smokers. About 90 percent of those battling lung cancer die from the disease—in large part because the cancer is often not found until it’s at an advanced stage.
But lung cancer can often be cured, if it’s detected in time.
Screening for Lung Cancer
Screening exams look for disease before there are symptoms, when it’s likely easier to treat. In lung cancer screening, individuals who have a high risk of developing lung cancer—like current and former cigarette smokers—but have no signs or symptoms of the disease undergo low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning of the chest, which is a simple, painless imaging procedure that detects tumors better than a conventional X-ray and uses 90 percent less radiation than a normal-dose CT scan.
Many national healthcare organizations now recommend that people who are at high risk for developing lung cancer consider getting screened yearly using LDCT scanning. Studies have shown that annual, low-dose CT screening can reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent; it’s the only screening tool shown to reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer.
Groups supporting this new recommendation for annual CT screens include the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Lung Association, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American Society of Clinical Oncologists, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and the American Cancer Society.
Should You Get Screened?
LDCT scans for lung cancer are not for everyone, but they are appropriate for those at high risk for the disease. Those considered high risk are smokers or past smokers (quit in last 15 years) who are ages 55 to 77 and who smoked for at least 30 years with a pack-a-day habit.
Take this short, online quiz to find out whether you should be screened for lung cancer; click here.
For more information or to make an appointment for a screening, reach out to Sarasota Memorial’s Lung Screening Program at 941-917-5864.
Remember that the most effective way to lower lung cancer risk is to stay away from tobacco. If you’re a smoker who’s considering quitting, check out the free smoking cessation classes at Sarasota Memorial.
Nurse Practitioner Amie J. Miller (MSN, ARNP, AOCNP, CTTS) is the lung cancer screening coordinator for Sarasota Memorial’s Institute for Cancer Care.