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Why More Ex-smokers and Smokers Should Take a CT Scan for Lung Cancer




Imaging of computed tomography of the chest and lung. (iStock)

Currently, warnings are an old hat: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention smoking causes about 1 in 5 deaths in the United States each year. Despite the decline in smoking across the country, lighting remains a leading cause of disease prevention in the country. Fortunately, says Indiana University medical professor Richard Gunderman, there is a test that can save the lives of smokers, even among those who have been smoking for years. This is a CT scan for lung cancer and Gunderman is making the case for the tool in Talk, a non-profit media outlet.

In CT lung cancer screening, a low dose X-ray machine scans the patient's lungs. The images that lead to the result can help you identify the signs of cancer. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people with a history of heavy smoking who smoke now or have quit within the last 15 years and who are between the ages of 55 and 80, be checked annually.

But too few take advantage of the test, writes Gunderman. "Many patients and even some doctors are simply unaware of the test and even patients who do, may refuse to take it," he writes.

Gunderman makes a convincing argument as to why the technique should be better known – and what early detection can do for those with lung cancer. Although false positives occur in some cases, this risk is outweighed by the potential benefit of the Qualified Patient Test. Symptoms of lung cancer, such as coughing up blood, appear only after the cancer is advanced, Gunderman writes. In contrast, CT scans can detect lung cancer in its early stages.

For some lifelong smokers, quitting warnings may seem as stagnant as old cigarette smoke. CT screening for lung cancer cannot reverse the effects of smoking, but it can detect lung cancer before it is too late to cure. Read Gunderman's case for screening bit.ly/CTlung records19659008SenseRead More


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