Early screenings can help detect lung cancer before dangerous symptoms appear

LONDON — Kentucky consistently ranks high among states with regard to smoking rates and lung cancer diagnosis. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that more than 34 million adults smoke cigarettes regularly, and nearly 16 million live with a disease caused by smoking.

While the percentage of adults who smoke has been dropping, Kentucky’s rate of adult smokers at nearly 25 percent is still much higher than the national rate of 17.1 percent. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancers, but early detection increases the chance of survival by nearly 50 percent.

As the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout nears in November, Saint Joseph London urges those who have a history of smoking to schedule a lung cancer screening.

“Timing is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re dealing with a disease as serious as lung cancer,” said Iram Nawaz, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Pulmonology. “If we find cancer, or early warning signs of cancer, we can immediately begin treatment while the disease is most treatable.”

Lung cancer screenings are recommended for adults 55 and older who are at risk of developing lung cancer, either from smoking or environmental factors. Those with a history of heavy smoking, as well as former smokers who have quit smoking in the past 15 years, are encouraged to schedule a screening.

The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan. This type of screening is proven to detect the disease in its earliest stages, before more serious symptoms begin to appear.

“The use of a low-dose CT scan for lung cancer screening allows us to examine different levels or slices of the lung tissue at a time, providing a more in-depth analysis of the lungs,” said Dr. Nawaz. “The CT scan is a noninvasive and painless screening procedure, which can detect the presence of cancer more accurately than a normal chest X-ray.”

The easiest way to protect yourself from developing lung cancer is to quit smoking or using any form of tobacco products. Smoking cessation classes can help. For assistance with smoking cessation, visit www.chisaintjosephhealth.org/smoking-cessation.

If you or a loved one is a smoker, schedule a lung cancer screening today.