Lung cancer is a deadly disease. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, this leading cause of cancer death kills more men and women than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. The good news is that there are ways to both reduce your risk and screen for the disease in its early, most treatable stages.
Why Are Lung Cancer Deaths So Common?
Too often, lung cancer is not caught until the disease has advanced or spread to other organs. Some patients report no symptoms in the early stages, while others experience symptoms that may be mistaken for other general illnesses or just attributed to not feeling well.
Symptoms may include:
- Persistent or worsening cough
- Chest pain
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Fatigue or weakness
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Persistent or recurring bronchitis or pneumonia
Smokers: How to Improve Your Chances of Survival
- Quit Smoking
Approximately 80–90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. are linked to smoking.1 Stopping smoking allows damaged lung tissue a chance to repair itself. Regardless of how long you have smoked or how old you are, quitting can reduce your risk.
- Lung Cancer CT Screening
For longtime smokers, Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT) can help detect lung cancer before symptoms occur. Studies have shown lung cancer CT screening to decrease the risk of lung cancer death in current and former heavy smokers.2
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening for asymptomatic adults who:
- Are 55–80 years old
- Have a history of heavy smoking (30 pack-years or more)
- Currently smoke or have quit in the last 15 years
One pack-year = smoking one pack of cigarettes per day for a year
A lung cancer CT scan involves taking a series of X-rays of the lungs to look for abnormalities. The procedure does use a low dose of radiation, but exposure through CT scanning is typically less than that of traditional X-rays. The scan is usually complete in just a few minutes and can provide peace of mind or help you catch issues early, while the chances of successful treatment are highest.
Nonsmokers: How to Reduce Your Risk
Lung cancer screening is not recommended for people who have never smoked. But there are two especially helpful ways to reduce your risk.
- Test Your Home for Radon
Believe it or not, radon exposure is believed to be responsible for more deaths each year than secondhand smoke. Testing your home is essential for your family’s safety.
- Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Even if you don’t smoke yourself, regular exposure to secondhand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer by as much as 20–30%.1
Making Strides Against Lung Cancer
People quitting smoking and advancements in detection and treatment have contributed to a decrease in the number of lung cancer deaths in recent years. Greensboro Imaging is committed to providing cutting-edge preventive and diagnostic imaging to help further reduce lung cancer deaths in the Triad. To schedule a lung cancer CT screening, contact us at 336.433.5000.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov
2National Cancer Institute, cancer.gov