Can Lung Cancer Screening Help in Detecting Cancer?

By Dr. Waseem Abbas in Medical Oncology , Cancer Care / Oncology

Nov 08 , 2020 | 3 min read

By far one of the major causes of cancer deaths in both men and women is lung cancer. Why? Because the symptoms usually do not show up until the disease has reached its advanced stage and has become untreatable. And even if they show up, people mistake them as any other health condition that may be because of an infection. This approach delays the diagnosis; thus, affecting the lung cancer survival rate. However, like any other cancer, lung cancer treatment can be a lifesaver, if the condition is detected in its early stage.

With the advancement in medical technology, Low-dose CT scans may help more patients beat the odds of lung cancer. This relatively new screening process has the potential of saving lives that are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer and in carrying out an effective treatment.

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How is Lung Cancer Screening Effective?

The primary goal of lung cancer screening is to detect the possibilities of the disease at earliest and when it is still in its treatable stage. Dr. Waseem Abbas, Associate Consultant - Medical Oncology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh says, this test effectively detects the disease even before the symptoms begin to appear. People who are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer owing to their lifestyle habits undergo low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning. This chest scan combines special X-ray equipment and produces cross-sectional images of the lungs. The technique uses low-doses of radiation and gives a detailed picture of the lungs that helps the doctors in detecting abnormalities if any. It also provides detailed information about the shape, size and location of the abnormality.

Though there are many other methods of lung screening (Chest Radiograph, Sputum Tests and PET Scan), these have not shown any significant results in detecting lung cancer at its early stage. Thus, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning becomes the most-trusted screening method for lung cancer across the world.

Are You the Right Candidate for LDCT Screening?

LDCT screening carries the risk of radiation exposure and can increase the chances of cancer in healthy people. Another risk that this test carries is a false-positive test. Because of a false-positive result, the patient may undergo many other tests that can be critically invasive and increase radiation exposure.

Keeping the risks in mind, lung cancer screening is only recommended for people who qualify the following criteria:

  • Previous history of lung or any other cancer
  • If you are an active smoker
  • If you have quit within the last 15 years
  • If you fall into the age group of 55-74
  • If you have a smoking history of 30 pack years
  • If you work in an industry wherein, you are exposed to cancer-causing substances such as cadmium, radon, arsenic and more
  • If your family has a history of lung cancer

If you qualify any of the criteria mentioned above, consider getting yourself screened at the earliest for a timely treatment.

Smoking Cessation – The Biggest Benefit

The biggest benefit of lung screening that was found out in a recent study was smoking cessation. People who undergo LDCT screening are more likely to quit smoking regardless of the test result. They are actively kicking the habit of smoking even if they are only diagnosed with other abnormalities, not cancer.

What is the Future of Lung Cancer Screening?

Radiologists and health specialists are constantly looking for measures that can reduce the number of false-positive results so that more people start opting for this crucial life-saving step. We at Max Healthcare are also playing an active role in making people aware and educated about this exam. Anything that helps in giving anyone a better life is always our priority. Lung screening significantly helps in detecting cancer, and more and more people should be aware of it.