Lung cancer is all too often a fatal diagnosis. Those who are diagnosed early do much better and live longer. Some may even have a "cure". Often, however, lung cancer is diagnosed too late - after it has spread to other parts of the body.
Screening for lung cancer with CT scans is now recommended, as it has been shown to reduce death from the disease.
You should be screened if you are:
Screening consists of a yearly CT scan (high-detail X-ray) of the chest every year for at least 3 years. If an abnormality is noted on one of these scans, further testing may be needed to see if you have lung cancer.
In Ohio, many people will have "nodules" (small growths on the lungs) on their CT scans. Very few "nodules" turn out to be cancer. Many will be related to a fungus called histoplasma that we all inhale in this region. It can cause small scars on the lung. We may have to do tests to see if nodules on your lung are related to an scar like this or a type of lung cancer.
The CT scans used for lung cancer screening are called "low-dose" - meaning they use less radiation than standard scans of the chest. This is done to protect the lungs from injury caused by repeated exposure to radiation. CT scans are quick procedures, requiring only that you lay flat and hold your breath for a few seconds. This testing is now usually covered by most insurance carriers.
If you are undergoing screening for lung cancer and are still a smoker, this is an important time to work on quitting. Even patients who are actually diagnosed with lung cancer do better if they quit smoking. We can work with you on this, and many screening programs require some effort to quit smoking in order to obtain the CT scan.