Worried about lung cancer? This screening may help you breathe easier

posted on Thursday, May 25, 2017

If you have been a lifelong smoker, you may wonder about your risk to develop lung cancer. According to the national CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, with cigarette smoking linked to 80-90 percent of lung cancers in the United States. So, if you smoke – or have been a smoker – it’s not unreasonable to wonder when you have a cough, “Is a cold coming on or if it’s a symptom of a much more serious health concern?”

Spencer Hospital offers low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening services to help detect lung cancer in early, more treatable stages. If you have concerns, we encourage you to visit with your family physician if lung cancer screening is right for you. A physician order is needed to perform the exam.  

What is lung cancer screening with low-dose CT?

During a Low-Dose CT scan, you lie on a table that slides back and forth into an x-ray machine that resembles a large “donut” to take the pictures needed. This type of CT uses a low dose (amount) of radiation to give us detailed images of your lungs. This scan takes a few minutes and is not painful.

Who should be screened?

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends lung cancer screening for individuals who meet these qualifications.

Are 55 to 80 years old
Do not have any signs or symptoms of lung cancer (diagnostic testing may be recommended for people who do have sign or symptoms of lung cancer)
Have not had lung cancer before
Currently smoke or have quit less than 15 years ago
Are or were heavy smokers (30 pack-years history such as those who smoked 1 pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years)

Medicare covers the cost of this screening for people who meet the above qualifications. If you have private insurance, check with your provider to determine if your screening will be covered.

As always, early detection of any cancer leads to the best options for successful treatment. Don’t put off knowing what can have you breathing a sigh of relief.

  1. cancer
  2. imaging
  3. screening