Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., with more than 150,000 people losing their lives to the disease each year – it’s more than breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancer deaths combined.
Despite the steady rise in this statistic over the past 15 years, the number of people being screened for lung cancer falls far behind those screened for breast or colon cancers.
This is an especially dangerous oversight if you are, or have been, a heavy smoker.
Screening is looking for cancer before you have any symptoms, which can help find cancer at an early stage when it may be easier to treat.
Patients whose lung cancer is detected in the earliest stage have a much better chance of survival. Conversely, survival rates for lung cancer are quite low when it’s diagnosed in the later stages of the disease.
Through CT screening, we can catch the tumor early and offer the patient more treatment options, and more time for those treatments to work.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, annual screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT scan) is recommended for those who are:
- Adults aged 55 to 80 years, and
- Have a “30 pack-year smoking history” and
- currently smoke, or
- have quit within the past 15 years
A “30 pack-year smoking history” means you’ve smoked an average of one pack per day for 30 years, or two packs per day for 15 years.
A low-dose CT scan uses an X-ray machine to scan the body with low doses of radiation to make detailed pictures of the lungs. If you or a loved one meets the guidelines above, you should speak to your doctor about a screening plan. Lung cancer frequently has no symptoms at all in the early stages, contributing to the higher mortality rate.
At Pecos Valley Pulmonology, we can help you understand your risk for lung cancer and provide a personalized lung cancer screening. Request an appointment online at www.PecosValleyDocs.com or call our office at 575-234-1201.
Dr. Sunkaru Touray, MD, MSc, is a pulmonologist and critical care specialist who joined the Medical Staff at Carlsbad Medical Center in August 2018. Dr. Touray received his medical degree from the University of Science & Technology in Ghana, and then completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary disease at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine.