A lung cancer screening is the best way to detect lung cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer starts in the lungs, where it may then spread to other areas of the body. This may include lymph nodes or the brain. Symptoms of lung cancer often don’t appear until an advanced stage.
What are Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
Symptoms may look different for each person. Lung cancer may cause:
- Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling very tired all the time
- Weight loss with no known cause
- Repeated pneumonia and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes in the chest area
Catching lung cancer at an early stage, when it’s most treatable, can save lives. Delaying screening can lead to a later-stage cancer diagnosis, which can be more challenging to treat.
If you’re at high risk of developing lung cancer, a low-dose computerized tomography (CT) scan can find abnormalities before you begin to experience symptoms.
Are You at High Risk?
Older adults with a history of smoking and those who currently smoke are at the highest risk of developing lung cancer. If you currently smoke, you will benefit from screening to look for cancer at its most treatable stage. Although it’s possible for those who don’t smoke to get lung cancer, smoking is the leading cause of this type of cancer.
Consider getting screened if you meet all the following criteria:
- If you are between the ages of 50 and 77 (age criteria may depend on your insurance company) and are in generally good health
- If you currently smoke or have quit in the last 15 years
- If you have a history of smoking for 20 pack years or more. A pack year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have 20 pack years of smoking history after smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years.
Talk with your primary care provider about whether screening is right for you.
Lung Cancer Screening
A CT scan with a low radiation dose can detect signs of lung cancer. During this screening, the CT scan creates an image of the lungs. Providers use this image to look for any abnormalities. A CT scan only takes a few minutes and is not painful.
Lung cancer screenings are covered by all major insurance companies.