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When to get screened for lung cancer

Wellness | Aging Well | August 23, 2017
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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. The American Cancer Society recommends lung cancer screening for people who meet all of the following criteria:

  • 55 to 77

  • A current smoker, or quit less than 15 years ago

  • Smoked one pack per day for 30 years, or smoked

  • Two packs per day for 15 years

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.


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