Should I screen?
Low Dose CT Lung Screening is not for everyone. But for may, it can be lifesaving. Take this simple test to see if you may benefit from a Low Dose CT Screening for Lung Cancer.
Take the Screening Test
What is lung cancer screening?
Screening examinations are tests performed to find disease before symptoms begin. The goal of screening is to detect disease at its earliest and most treatable stage. In order to be widely accepted and recommended by medical practitioners, a screening program must meet a number of criteria, including reducing the number of deaths from the given disease.
Screening tests may include laboratory tests to check blood and other fluids, genetic tests that look for inherited genetic markers linked to disease, and imaging tests that produce pictures of the inside of the body. These tests are typically available to the general population; however, an individual’s needs for a specific screening test are based on factors such as age, gender and family history.
In lung cancer screening, individuals who have a high risk of developing lung cancer but no signs or symptoms of the disease undergo low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning of the chest.
CT scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple, cross-sectional images or pictures of the inside of the body. LDCT produces images of sufficient quality to detect many lung diseases and abnormalities using up to 90 percent less ionizing radiation than a conventional chest CT scan.
In the past, two other tests have been used to check for lung cancer: chest x-ray and sputum cytology. A chest x-ray makes images of the heart, lungs, airways, blood vessels and the bones of the spine and chest. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. Sputum cytology is a procedure in which a sample of sputum (mucus that is coughed up from the lungs) is viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. However, the use of chest x-ray and sputum cytology, individually or in combination, has not resulted in a decreased risk of dying from lung cancer.
Who should consider lung cancer screening – and why?
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Anything that increases an individual’s chances of developing disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for lung cancer include:
- tobacco smoking
- contact with radon, asbestos or other cancer-causing agents
- a personal history of smoking related cancer
- a family history of lung cancer
- certain chronic lung diseases
Medicare will now cover lung cancer screening with LDCT once per year for Medicare beneficiaries who meet all of the following criteria:
they are age 55-77, and are either current smokers or have quit smoking within the last 15 years;
they have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years); and
they receive a written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner that meets certain requirements.
Many private insurers use a similar criteria to decide if you are at risk. Check with your doctor to see if LDCT is right for you.
About Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two most common types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The type of cancer is diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.
Lung cancer that is detected early — before spreading to other areas of the body — is more successfully treated. Unfortunately, when lung cancer is typically diagnosed today, the disease has already spread outside the lung in 15 to 30 percent of cases.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and worldwide. Approximately 85 percent of lung cancer occurs in current or former cigarette smokers. It is estimated that there are more than 94 million current and former smokers in the United States, many of whom are at high risk of developing the disease.
Why North Country Hospital?
North Country Hospital is one of only a few hospitals in the state to be accredited by the American College of Radiology as a Designated Lung Cancer Screening Center. This means that North Country Hospital has met or exceeded the health and safety guidelines set by the ACR. The ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center designation is a voluntary program that recognizes facilities that have committed to practice safe, effective diagnostic care for individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer.
In order to receive this elite distinction, facilities must be accredited by the ACR in computed tomography in the chest module, as well as undergo a rigorous assessment of its lung cancer screening protocol and infrastructure. Also required are procedures in place for follow-up patient care, such as counseling and smoking cessation programs.
Click here to learn more and to calculate your pack years.
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