In some cases, the earlier lung cancer is detected, the more effective treatment can be.
If you feel you’re at a higher risk, it’s a good idea to have routine checkups with your doctor. Your doctor can determine if screening is needed based on the symptoms you might be experiencing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual lung cancer screening for certain people at higher risk for lung cancer who meet the following criteria:
- Have a history of heavy smoking, and
- Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
- Are between 55 and 80 years old
Heavy smoking means a smoking history of 30 pack years or more. A pack year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 30 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
Screening for Lung Cancer
There is one approved method of screening for lung cancer. Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) creates detailed scans of the lungs. If cancer is detected, your doctor might request additional screening.
If lung cancer is discovered at an early stage, more treatment options might be available. However, many times, symptoms don’t appear until the tumor has advanced to a later stage. This is why it’s extremely important to have an open, honest conversation with your doctor about your smoking history or any other factors that might put you at risk for lung cancer.