Early Detection – It Really Matters!
Often, by the time you experience symptoms from lung cancer, the cancer has reached a late stage or may have already spread. This is what makes lung cancer so dangerous. So, like with any cancer, detecting lung cancer early improves outcomes. When lung cancer is diagnosed and treated early, the survival rate increases to more than 70 percent.
Are you at higher risk for lung cancer?
While lung cancer may occur for several reasons, those who smoke are at an increased risk for lung cancer. For those at higher risk for lung cancer, most insurances now cover the cost of a low-dose CT lung cancer screening. Using a low-dose CT scan reduces a patient’s exposure to radiation from the test while takings cross-sectional images of the lungs. These images reveal nodules too small to show on a traditional chest X-ray. This is important for early detection of lung cancer. The larger the tumor when it is found, the higher the chance the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.
Do you qualify for low-dose lung cancer screening?
Most insurances cover the host of the screening for those at higher risk. Criteria for most insurances to cover the screening are:
- 55 to 80 years of age
- Current smoker or quit smoking in the past 15 years
- Have a greater than or equal to 30 pack year history – equals 1 pack a day for 30 years
- Do not currently have symptoms for lung cancer
To learn more, talk with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will help you with the decision-making process and, if you meet the criteria, will schedule you for the screening.
MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT LUNG CANCER:
- “I feel fine. I don’t need to be tested.”
Screening is a test specifically for those without any symptoms. People with lung cancer do not typically have symptoms until the cancer has spread.
- “I’ve heard that things that aren’t cancer show up on the test. Does that mean I shouldn’t trust the test?”
Many adults have spots on their lungs that are not cancer. There are guidelines to help doctors determine if a spot is more likely to be cancer. Doctors reading the results are radiologists trained in these guidelines.
- “I don’t want to get screened because I don’t want extra radiation exposure.”
This is good to discuss with your health care provider. For those at high risk for lung cancer, the benefits of the low-dose CT scan may outweigh the small risks that come from the low levels of radiation exposure.
- “I quit smoking years ago so I don’t have to worry about lung cancer.”
While quitting smoking is one of the most important things you have done for your health, your risk for lung cancer is still higher than someone who has never smoked. If you have quit in the past 15 years, you may still be a candidate for the lung cancer screening. Talk to your provider.
For more information, visit LungCancerAlliance.org