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What Is Annual Lung Screening? How Frequent Should We Have It?

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

Nov 08 , 2020 | 2 min read

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in India, makes it deadlier than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined. Although the advancements in the medical field are declining the death rate, the number of cases getting registered each year continues to be a staggering one.

In many cases, lung cancer does not show up any symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. However, if detected in its early stage, like any other cancer, lung cancer is also highly curable. Annual lung screening can help active smokers keep a tab on the possibility of developing lung cancer. It is a test to look for signs of cancer in otherwise healthy people.

What is Lung Screening?

As stated above, the harsh truth about lung cancer is that it never shows any symptoms until it reaches a deadly stage. Lung screening is for those who have a high risk of lung cancer as it detects the disease even before the symptoms show up, thus making the disease easier to treat. Screening for lung cancer is done using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) chest scan. The technique scans the lungs through an X-ray to make a detailed picture of the lungs by using low doses of radiation.

Lung screening has become a part of the routine health checkup for most families. Other methods of screening include Chest Radiograph, Sputum Tests and PET Scan. When compared to LDCT, these screening methods have not shown any benefit in detecting lung cancer, thus making the former the most trusted methods of screening for lung cancer.

Who Should Opt for Lung Screening?

People falling under the age group of 55-74 are the ideal candidates for lung cancer screening. In addition, they should consider being screened when any of the following is true:

  • An active smoker or people who have quit within the last 15 years
  • Smoking history of 30 pack-years
  • Prolonged exposure to cancer-causing substances like arsenic, radon, cadmium and more
  • Previous history of lung cancer or any other cancer

We at Max Healthcare, feel proud to be labelled as the best cancer hospital in Delhi to offer lung cancer treatment. If you fall in any or all the categories mentioned above, consider getting a lung screening done for early detection of the disease.

What Should You Know About Lung Screening?

Radiation exposure is the most notable risk of screening. Consulting the best cancer hospital in Delhi is advised before being tested. The false positive result may lead to a series of additional tests that increase the exposure to radiation and are critically invasive. Repeated LDCT tests in healthy people can increase the risk of cancer due to exposure to radiation. Dr. Waseem Abbas, Associate Consultant, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh says, which is why lung cancer screening is recommended only for those who have a high risk of developing it due to their age and history of smoking.

How Frequent Should the Screening be done?

Ideal candidates should get their lungs screened every year for proper diagnosis and timely treatment of the disease. However, in future, screening interval and the nodule work-up threshold may be tailored to individual risk. Though screening helps in identifying the disease at an early stage, the best way to avoid it is by quitting smoke. Remember, screening is not an alternative for quitting smoking. The best way to lower the risk of lung cancer is by staying away from tobacco.