Is A Lung Screening Right for You?
Symptoms of lung cancer usually do not appear until the disease is already at an advanced, non-curable stage. Even if lung cancer does cause symptoms, many people may mistake them for other problems, such as an infection or long-term effects from smoking, delaying the diagnosis. When lung cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, it is more easily treated and potentially curable. Research has shown a significant decrease in deaths when low-dose computed tomography (CT) tests, the only recommended screening test for lung cancer, are used as a screening tool for people at high risk for lung cancer. This test is available for patients who meet certain criteria and have specific risk factors. During the test, an X-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to take detailed pictures of the lungs to find evidence of cancer.
American Cancer Society
Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
- 55 to 74 years old
- In fairly good health (discussed further down)
- Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history (discussed above)
- Are either still smoking or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
Frequently Ask Questions
What is a screening?
A screening is looking for a disease before a person has any symptoms, which can help to and lung cancer in an early, more treatable stage. Based on research, if a group of 1000 people were screened once a year for 3 years, 3 fewer people in 1000 would die of lung cancer after 6 years. This means that, instead of 21 people, 18 people per 1000 would die of lung cancer.
Why not screen everyone?
There is no proof from research that it is best to screen everyone. Screening people who are not a thigh risk or who are very ill may cause more harm than good. False alarms can lead to more testing and risk of harm.
Are there any symptoms of lung cancer that I should watch for?
Contact your health care team if you notice any of the following:
- Have a new cough that doesn’t go away
- Notice a change in a chronic cough
- Cough up blood, even a small amount
- Develop a shortness of breath or chest pain
- Lose weight without trying
Is there a cost for the screening?
Cost is covered by most insurance companies.
How is screening for lung cancer done?
We screen for lung cancer using a low-dose spiral CT (LDCT) scan. This LDCT scan gives a detailed picture of your lungs. You will go to the radiology (X-Ray) department for your LDCT scan. You will lie on a table and raise your arms above your head. Then the table will slide into the scanner. We will ask you to hold your breath for about 20 seconds during the scan.
How often should screening be done?
Based on current research, screening should be done once a year for as long as you meet the screening criteria. You should contact your family physician to discuss and to schedule all screenings.
CyberKnife® for Lung Tumors
CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery painlessly delivers precise beams of radiation to tumors and lesions, without requiring incisions, hospitalization, or long recovery time. It can serve as an effective lung cancer treatment and is an especially good option for patients with early stage lung cancer, complex tumors or patients who prefer a non-invasive way to treat their cancer. CyberKnife has the ability to track tumors in real time. That means patients breathe normally during each treatment session, since the radiation beam adjusts automatically to the tumor location.
For patient’s with early stage lung cancers who cannot undergo surgery, I treat them with CyberKnife stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. This has proven to be a very effective curative option in this patients.
– Abhay Gokhale, M.D.
- Treats patients in 5 or fewer visits, depending on tumor size, volume, and location
- Constantly corrects for patient/tumor movement throughout treatment, ensuring radiation beams are always locked on tumor during treatment
- Respiratory tracking feature requires no breath-holding or respiratory gating by patient
- Reaches tumors from virtually unlimited directions with robotic mobility
- Enables clinicians to maximize and conform the dose to the tumor target while limiting radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue
- Outpatient procedure, little or no recovery time and minimal side effects
- Requires no anesthesia
- Allows for an immediate return to normal activities
Speak with one of our dedicated Team Member about how we can help today.