Who should be screened for lung cancer?
If you have a heavy smoking history, have smoked within the last 15 years, and are age 55 and older, your risk for lung cancer is increased. If you meet these criteria, your doctor might recommend a low-dose CT scan to screen for this disease.
Screening for lung cancer has been found to help find some cancers early on when they are more treatable. However, being screened can lead to unnecessary treatments or worry when cancer is not found.”
Since 1955, there have been over 30 million instances of lung cancer that were detected through screening in the US alone. Screenings are also an appropriate way of detecting symptoms since many smokers can’t identify the symptoms early enough due to their physical addiction.
Screenings are also a more effective way of detecting cancer since smokers are sometimes unable to detect the symptoms. For example, non-smokers might experience a persistent cough after exercise, which would be treated and forgotten about. However, if that cough persists and is accompanied by pain in the chest or shortness of breath, they might then think of lung cancer as a possibility.
Lung cancer tends to be detected later in non-smokers because there isn’t a large body of knowledge about the disease. Therefore, they’re more likely to think that the symptoms are due to another condition that they can then treat themselves for.
How long can lung cancer go undetected?
As stated before, smokers may not experience any symptoms at all until it’s too late, which is why screenings are such an effective way of finding as well as preventing cancer.
To support this, one study showed that smokers have up to a 20 times higher chance of dying from lung cancer than non-smokers. As the study stated, smokers were also not able to detect the symptoms as easily as non-smokers when they’re feeling sick or unwell.
Lung cancer has become one of the most common kinds of cancer in both men as well as women. The main reason for this was due to the fact that it’s often diagnosed late because it doesn’t cause any obvious signs or symptoms in its early stages. The earlier a person is diagnosed with this disease, the better, which is why screening is an effective way of catching cancer in its early stages.
However, lung cancer isn’t just prevalent in smokers; non-smokers can also be affected by it as well. Non-smokers still have a small chance of getting lung cancer if they’re exposed to certain chemicals or radon gas. A low-dose CT scan is an effective way of detecting any type of lung cancer that could occur regardless of whether or not you’re a smoker.
To help you understand the benefits and risks of having screening and the risk for getting lung cancer, try now our interactive tool to help you decide Should I Have Screening for lung cancer?