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When to get screened for lung cancer

| Wellness | Healthy You | Aging Well

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When diagnosed early, lung cancer can be treatable and even curable. Until recently, however, there has been no good method for early detection. Now, thanks to new technology, effective lung cancer screening is a reality.

Who should be screened?

Not everyone should be screened for lung cancer. Yearly lung cancer screenings* are recommended for people who:

  • Have a 20 pack/year or more smoking history, and
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
  • Are between 50 and 80 years old

About lung cancer screening

Because each screening requires a low dose of radiation, the American Cancer Society recommends screening only patients at the highest risk of lung cancer. The screening process uses a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanner to obtain clear, accurate images of potential tumors, which are then evaluated by your doctor to help determine the best course of action.

What to expect

Lung cancer screening is quick, simple, and painless. The screening should be done at a facility with an experienced staff and an LDCT scanner. People at higher risk of lung cancer should not put off screening simply because they show no signs of lung cancer, which usually causes no symptoms in its early, treatable stages. Those who delay action until they feel the effects of lung cancer are often too late to benefit from effective treatment.

Talk to your primary care provider about getting screened. The American Lung Association also offers a quiz to help determine if you should get screened.

*source: U.S. Preventative Services Task Force