GET SCREENED FOR LUNG CANCER: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR SMOKERS AND EX- SMOKERS TO KNOW

GET SCREENED FOR LUNG CANCER: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR SMOKERS AND EX- SMOKERS TO KNOW
GET SCREENED FOR LUNG CANCER: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR SMOKERS AND EX- SMOKERS TO KNOW

Lung cancer is often deadly but like any other cancer early stage detection may offer a much greater chance of treatment benefit. Lung cancer kills more people per annum than deaths caused by Prostate, colon and breast cancer combined. 

In December 2013, U.S Preventive services task force presented with its recommendations to perform screening in smokers or ex smokers who meet the criteria. These guidelines were updated in 2017. I will present these below in a manner that is easy to follow for the reader. First know that the screening modality used is called LDCT, which stands for low dose Cat scan.

WHAT IS A LOW DOSE CT SCAN


This is a newer form of a spiral or helical CT scan which continuously rotates around the body part being scanned. It rapidly takes many 3D images of the chest. The scan is completed in less than a minute. The procedure is painless as only images are being taken. It is considered a non invasive test.
There is radiation involved. With a conventional CT scan you get a radiation dose between 5-20 millisieverts of radiation. With LDCT you get between 1-4 millisieverts of radiation. Although the radiation is less than acoventional CT, it is higher than a single chest X-ray.

HOW WERE THESE SCREENING GUIDELINES DEVELOPED?

A National lung screening trial (NSLT) was a multicenter trial in which people who met the criteria for the study were screened by 2 methods. They either received a Chest X-ray or a LDCT.
Participants who underwent LDCT had a 15-20% lower risk of dying from lung cancer compared to those who were screened by chest X-ray only.

This finding led to the development of guidelines for screening

DO YOU MEET THE CRITERIA FOR LUNG CANCER SCREENING?

First you must be at risk. This means that you are either a current or exsmoker who has specific smoking duration/amount. If you are an exsmoker, then you qualify if you have quit within the last 15 years. This means that if you meet other criteria but you quit more than 15 years ago then you don’t meet the criteria for LDCT SCREENING.

You must have a smoking history of 30 pack years. This is equivalent to smoking 1 pack per day for 30 years or more. So if you smoke 2 packs per day, you get to a 30 pack year history in 15 years.
Your age should be between 55-77.

These are the basic criteria and if you meet these than discuss screening with your physician.
A good and more complete updated guidelines can be found here.

We have commonly known about colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer screening as these were established many years ago. Lung cancer screening is newer and not well known by public. This post hopes to bring more public awareness on this modality.

This post is not intended to be medical advice. You should seek that from your physician if you find relevant information in this post.

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A Health teacher and Midwife..

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