Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the United States. 222,520 people are expected to die from lung cancer this year alone and there is no reliable way to detect it in its earliest stage when it is most treatable. New research suggests that screening a high risk population for lung cancer can drastically reduce the number of mortalities from this disease. Findings of a large clinical trial showed that CT lung screening reduced lung cancer deaths among smokers.
If you’re a smoker or former smoker, you may worry about your risk of getting lung cancer or dying from it. A major study of heavy smokers, called the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), compared lung CT scans and chest X-rays and found that getting a lung CT scan lowered the risk of dying of lung cancer. Conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), this was the largest randomized study of lung cancer screening in a high risk group and the results were so impressive that the study was stopped early. The National Cancer Institute stopped the study early after early results showed that CT screenings for a high risk population of current and former smokers 55-74 years old showed a 20% decline in lung cancer deaths compared with X-ray screenings. This is the first study to show lung cancer screening may save lives.
What is a CT scan of the chest/lung?
CT scan is a useful test to screen for and lung cancers. The screening allows for cancers to be identified in their early stages at which they can be successfully treated. The CT scan images the entire chest and the mediastinum (the middle past of the chest which contains important structures). The CT scan can detect very small masses in the lung. By detecting cancerous tumors at an early stage, an individual’s survival rate may be significantly improved.
Isn’t an X-ray just as good?
No, the resolution of a CT is much better than that of a general X-ray. The CT can detect very small abnormalities that can be treated very early. In general, a chest X-ray can only detect a mass in the lungs when it gets to be a larger size. As found in the NLST study, a CT scan may significantly decrease the mortality rate of lung cancer carriers.
Who should get a CT of the chest?
A screening is useful for those individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer: Smokers aged 55-74 years old with a 30 pack year history. If an abnormal test is detected it will be discussed with you and your physician.
How much radiation is used?
Across the United States on average a conventional CT effective dose is about 8mSv. At NDIC we have only board certified CT technologists and strive to give our patients the lowest radiation dose possible. On average for Lung CT screenings our does are
If you are at a high risk for developing lung cancer, a CT lung screening may just save your life with early detection. For more information on CT lung screenings and other early diagnostic tests please contact Naples Diagnostic Imaging Center at 239-593-4200 today. Don’t wait until it is too late for treatment!