Should You Get Screened for Lung Cancer?

lung-cancerNovember is lung cancer awareness month, and now’s a good time to be honest and ask yourself some tough questions:

  1. Do you smoke, or did you quit smoking less than 15 years ago?
  2. Do you have at least a 30 pack-year history of smoking? To find your pack-year history, multiply the number of packs you smoke each day by the number of years you have smoked. For example, 1 pack a day x 30 years = 30 pack-years, 2 packs a day x 15 years = 30 pack-years
  3. Are you 55-80 years of age?

If you answer “yes” to these three questions, the American Cancer Society suggests talking with your doctor about lung cancer screening.

Lung cancer screening means getting a CT scan of the chest. A CT scan is a series of computerized x-rays that gives better views of an area within the body. If the screening results are a concern, you may have more tests or procedures to determine if you have cancer. This helps you get the best treatment. Contact your health insurance company to find out your coverage and any costs you would have in relation to a lung cancer screening test such as a CT scan.

As with any procedure, there are some risks. The scan involves a low dose of radiation, similar to a mammogram or 4cd3e89b1bac5dc01575afd9da74b751x-ray. Exposure to radiation, including x-rays and CT scans, can increase your risk of cancer in general, although this risk is low. Other risks could include the stress of having abnormalities detected and follow-up procedures associated with your CT scan, such as additional scans or biopsy.

You have a greater chance of having lung cancer if you smoke or used to smoke, have moderate or severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), or if you have a parent, sibling, or child who has had lung cancer.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer

Not everyone who breathes radon will develop lung cancer. Risk is determined by such things as how much radon is in your home, or other indoor environment, the amount of time you spend in that environment, and whether you smoke or have ever smoked. Think about getting your home tested for radon.

Talk with your doctor about your risk for lung cancer and also the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke. For more information, go to the Michigan Cancer Consortium website.

Source: Michigan Cancer Consortium