If you’ve successfully quit smoking, congratulations! That is the best thing that you could do to reduce your risk of getting lung cancer. However, having a history of smoking is in itself a risk factor for lung cancer. The American Cancer Society has recommendations for people who meet certain criteria — such as those with a history of smoking — that puts them at risk for lung cancer. If you are between the ages of 55 and 74 and used to smoke, particularly if you smoked a pack a day for at least 30 years, lung cancer screenings are recommended. If you still smoke, you are also considered high risk, and there are other recommendations for you.
Lung Cancer Screening
The diagnostic screening recommended for ex-smokers is the low dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan. Patients between the ages of 55 and 74 who have no symptoms of lung cancer are covered by Medicare for an LDCT scan. The scan is recommended annually until the age of 74. Current smokers who meet the age and overall health criteria are also covered by Medicare. In addition to LDCT screenings, current smokers will receive smoking cessation counseling. Patients need a recommendation from their primary care providers for an LDCT scan, and only after having discussed the benefits and risks associated with the procedure.
The LDCT Scan
Low dose computed tomography scans take 3-dimensional X-rays of the lung and reveal early signs of lung cancer when the abnormalities are too small to be detected by a regular X-ray. The LDCT scan uses a spiral or helical scanner, which can detect tumors the size of a grain of rice. Typically, lung cancer produces no symptoms until it’s reached an advanced stage, at which point it already requires invasive treatment. Patients have a better prognosis when lung cancer is detected early. The LDCT scan has been shown to improve survivability from lung cancer, since the patient will have more treatment options with the cancer being so small.
Medical Basis for Lung Cancer Screenings
The reason why ex and current smokers are recommended this screening is that the benefits outweigh the risks for this high-risk group. Just as with other health screenings, the LDCT scan may produce false positives, revealing abnormalities that may not turn out to be cancer. The LDCT scan also utilizes radiation, which is why only specific people should get it done. Because of the risks associated with LDCT, patients should discuss and weigh the benefits, risks, and limitations of the test with their doctor.
When choosing a facility for early lung cancer screening, make sure to choose one with the right type of computed tomography scan.
Low-Dose CT Scan in The Bronx
Starling Diagnostics offers cutting-edge CT scans using low-dose X-rays for health screenings. To schedule your health screening, call (718) 319-1610 or use our online request form. Our friendly staff looks forward to serving you in our diagnostic facility.
If you’re a physician and want to make a referral, please use this link.