Lung cancer amounts for 1 of every 3 cancer deaths and is the second most diagnosed in men and women. About 87% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking, however 60% of lung cancer patients have never smoked or are former smokers who quit decades ago. Only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed at their earliest, most curable stages. If caught early patients can increase their treatment options, outcome and survival rate.
Recent studies have shown that using low dose CT for screening of lung cancer has reduced cancer deaths from lung cancer by 20% in just five years. Listed below are frequently asked questions regarding low dose CT lung screening exams available at Atlantic Medical Imaging.
What is a low dose CT lung screening?
The CT lung screening is a low dose CT scan which evaluates your lungs for any sign of cancer. This screening tool is intended for individuals considered to be at high risk fir developing lung cancer. The advanced CT scan provides a rapid examination of your lungs and is designed to detect small nodules (possible cancers) that may be present, but not yet visible on a standard chest x-ray. The images are acquired in a similar fashion to a regular CT, using a helical technique. It takes only seconds (one breath hold) and no IV or contrast is needed. Recent research suggests that detection of nodules at a very small size may dramatically improve the likelihood of survival of lung cancer.
How much radiation is used during the exam?
In an average size person, the dose will be approximately 1mSv (millisieverts). To put this into perspective, a person will receive 3 to 4 mSvs of background radiation every year just living at sea level. Your additional lifetime cancer risk at age 55 for the low dose CT scan is approximately 0.004%, which is very low.
Who should get a low dose CT lung screening?
Results from the NLST (National Lung Screening Trial) suggest former smokers and smokers age 55+ with a 30 pack-year smoking history have a low dose CT lung screening. Pack-year history is calculated by multiplying the number of years smoking by the number of packs per day.
Other candidates include patients between 50 and 55 years of age with at least a 20-30 pack smoking history or with risk factors such as asbestos exposure or obstructive airway disease. Non-smokers concerned about their risks from environmental hazards such as asbestos or radon gas, or who have health concerns, like obstructive airway disease, or who were exposed to substantial second hand smoke, should consult their physicians to see if they are a candidate for this procedure.