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Lung Cancer: Early Detection Is Key to Survival

Lung Cancer: Early Detection Is Key to Survival

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. It makes up almost 25% of all cancer-related deaths, which is more than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. This year alone, lung cancer has resulted in over 131,000 deaths in the United States.

What Causes Lung Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, between 80-90% of lung cancer diagnoses can be attributed to a history of smoking. Experts say the risk of cancer is significantly increased for people that smoke heavily and for a prolonged time period. Other risk factors include prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, and other carcinogens, as well as previous radiation therapy or a family history of the disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

In the early stages, symptoms of lung cancer aren’t often present. It isn’t until the disease reaches more advanced stages that symptoms typically begin to occur.

Common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • a lingering cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • hoarseness

Why Is It Important to Detect Lung Cancer Early?

Because the disease is incredibly aggressive, lung cancer often remains undiagnosed until it reaches an advanced stage. Unfortunately, at these advanced stages, there are limited treatment options. It’s also common that by the time the disease is detected, the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.

“As with most diseases, early detection is key to increasing a patient’s chance of survival,” said Archbold General Surgeon Ed Hall, MD. “This is specifically true with lung cancer because most of the time patients will not experience symptoms until the disease is severely advanced.”

Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screenings at Archbold

For those at high risk of developing lung cancer, physicians recommend scheduling an annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening as a proactive way to detect the disease early.

During a low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan) a patient lies on a table while an X-ray machine uses a low dose (amount) of radiation to make detailed images of your lungs. The scan only takes a few minutes and is not painful. After a scan is taken of the patient’s chest, the images are read by a radiologist to determine if there are abnormalities that require further evaluation.

“Low-dose lung cancer screenings are truly lifesaving because they can provide a diagnosis long before symptoms of lung cancer start,” said Dr. Hall. “Lung cancer is often an aggressive disease. It’s critical we catch it in its earliest stage so we can offer the best treatment options for our patients.”

You should talk with your physicians about scheduling an annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening if:

  • You are a current smoker
  • You are a former smoker who has quit within the last 15 years
  • You are a non-smoker who has experienced/currently experiences prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke or cancer-causing agents
  • You have a family history of lung cancer

Low-dose CT screenings are available, by physician order only, at Archbold’s Ambulatory Care Center in Thomasville, Archbold’s Mitchell County Hospital in Camilla, and the Imaging Center at Grady General Hospital in Cairo.

Talk with your doctor to see if an annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening is right for you.