When you test for lung cancer before there are any symptoms to be concerned about, this is called screening. It is recommended by doctors that a test for screening in order to find a disease early should be done, as early detection and treatment works better.
More specifically, when it comes to cancer screening, this refers to strategies utilized for identifying lung cancer early before symptoms are apparent. More likely, when lung cancer is detected early, there is more of a likelihood that this is curable. Studies of cancer of the lung screenings have just been done in populations that are high risk. This includes workers and smokers as well as those who have had occupational exposure to specific substances. Large randomized studies have resulted and have prompted authorities of the medicine world recently to reverse previous positions and currently recommend screening for cancer of the lung for selected members of the populace.
The Only Screening Test Available
Low dose computed tomography is the only screening test recommended for lung cancer. This test is also called LDCT or the low dose CT scan. In this test, the body is scanned with an x-ray machine and a low radiation dose is used for making detailed photos of the lungs.
Who Should Not Be Screened?
It is recommended that lung cancer yearly screening should not be applied if the individual is unable or unwilling to undergo surgery if there has been cancer found. It is also not recommended for folks who develop problems in health that make them unwilling to undergo treatment. If a person has not smoked for fifteen years or if you turned eighty-one years old, you should not be screened.
Screening Risks for Lung Cancer
- Not unlike other types of cancer screening, there are a few risks involved when it comes to lung cancer screening. For one thing, there is such a thing as an over-diagnosis. This is when cases of cancer are found by a screening test for lung cancer that may never have otherwise caused the patient a problem. In other words, you may end up getting treatment when you really did not need any.
- There is also such a thing as a false-positive result. This is when no cancer is present but it is suggested by the screening test that lung cancer has indeed occurred. A false-positive can lead to surgery and follow up tests that may not have been needed and which may cause more risks.
- In people who are otherwise healthy, repeated tests of LDCT cause radiation that result in cancer.
These are the reasons why screening for lung cancer is a recommendation made only for people who are of adult-age and are not symptomatic but do have high risks for developing cancer due to their age and history of smoking.
Talk to your doctor if you are thinking about getting screened. The most ideal method of reducing your lung cancer risks is to avoid second hand smoke or not to smoke at all. Screening for lung cancer is not a substitute for actually being able to quit smoking.
Should You Be Screened?
Computed tomography screening is able to detect cancer for individuals with higher risks of lung cancer development. This test gives person’s options to respond in ways that may prolong their lives. Screening in this form reduces the chances of demise due to cancer of the lungs by about twenty percent. People who are high risk fall in ages between fifty-five and seventy-four and have smoked packs of cigarettes daily. There is a high association of CT screens with tests that are falsely positive that might result in unnecessary treatments. For every positive true scan there are over nineteen scans that are false positive. Radiation exposure is also a concern, along with the cost of following up the tests and the actual cost of the test itself. There have been no benefits found in other available clinical tests including the chest radiograph or the sputum cytology tests for screening. These tests have been found to have no benefits whatsoever.
For cancer of the lungs, studies of screening have only been done in populations that are high risk. This includes workers and smokers with occupations that expose them to specified substances. Recommendations in 2010 by authorities in the medicine world favour screening for lung cancer. This is probably why it has become more available to do in economies that are more advanced.
Get Screened Each Year
It is recommended by the US Preventative Services Task Force that a lung cancer screening yearly be done using the low dose CT scan for individuals who are between fifty-five and eighty years old, quit smoking within the past two decades, currently smoke or have had a history of smoking heavily. If you have smoked for thirty pack years or more, this is considered heavy smoking. Smoking an average of one cigarette pack daily for a year is called a pack year. For instance, if you smoked two packs per day for fifteen years or one pack a day for thirty years, both these situations are called a thirty pack-year history.
Some Types of Screening are Not Recommended
Programs that screen for lung cancer using sputum analysis or chest x-rays in general have not been found to have any effectiveness in the mortality reduction when it comes to cancer of the lungs. Nine thousand male smokers aged forty-five and above were followed by the Mayo Lung Project. Three times a year their sputum got screened and results shows no difference in the lung cancer mortality that resulted although it did result in higher rates of early stage detection. Blood tests and breath analysis have also been explored as methods of testing. While there is evidence in some scientific studies that cancer of the lungs can be detected in human breath using the highest sensitivity, there are no tests for screening that have been validated clinically to be useful and applied in the screening.