Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in the United States. One reason lung cancer is so deadly is that it is usually fairly advanced by the time symptoms show up.
Early detection through low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can find lung cancer at a stage when it is still curable through treatment. The Medical Group of South Florida offers these types of lung cancer screenings to eligible patients.
“From a screening standpoint, we do have a CT lung screening program available for high-risk patients. Now people that are high risk are defined as being between 50 to 80 years old. They have a 20 pack-year smoking history and are either are currently smoking or have quit within the past 15 years.” Said Dr. Michael Hall, Radiation Oncologist at The Medical Group of South Florida. “If you meet that criteria, you need to talk to your doctor or myself and we can set up that screening program for you.”
What is lung cancer screening?
“Screening” refers to performing exams on patients who don’t have any symptoms, to allow detection of cancer at an early stage. Many patients do not have symptoms when lung cancer first starts.
A LDCT uses a small amount of radiation to make detailed images of your lungs, which are analyzed by a radiologist. LDCT uses a much lower dose of radiation than a regular CT scan. It is not painful and takes only a few minutes.
Why low-dose CT lung cancer screening?
During this simple test, an X-ray machine scans the entire body, using low doses of radiation to make detailed pictures of the lung. This allows our doctors to detect even the smallest tumors, and offers a variety of benefits for patients at high risk of lung cancer:
- Effective: Studies show that low-dose CT is four times more likely to pick up a mass than a traditional chest X-ray. It has also proven to be at least as effective as mammography and colonoscopy screenings in saving lives.
- Safe: CT scanning for lung cancer uses up to 90% less radiation than a conventional chest CT scan.
- Painless: It’s non-invasive and only takes a few minutes to complete.
- Covered by insurance: Medicare, Medicaid and most health insurers cover this crucial screening for those who qualify.
- Convenient: CT scans are offered at The Medical Group of South Florida.
Should we find anything abnormal, our dedicated team will arrange follow-up testing and, if needed, work closely with you to create a personalized cancer treatment plan to help return you to good health.
Who should consider lung cancer screening?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening for adults who are:
- between the ages of 50 and 80 years
- have a 20 pack-year smoking history
- currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
- do not have any signs or symptoms of lung cancer
Your doctor will help you decide whether lung cancer screening is right for you.
What to Expect From the Exam
A LDCT is painless and quick. You will lie on your back on a table that can slide in and out of the CT scanner. Once you are comfortable, the technologist will leave the room to perform the scan, but he or she will be able to see, hear, and speak with you at all times.
The technologist will ask you to hold very still and may ask you to hold your breath during the scan. The table will move quickly through the machine. You may hear some knocking or clicking noises. The actual scan takes less than five minutes.
Lung cancer screening looks for nodules on the lung, which appear as small spots on the scan. Lung nodules can form on your lungs for a variety of reasons and don’t necessarily mean you have cancer.
Your doctor will go over your results and discuss any next steps that would be appropriate. Some possible results are:
- No abnormalities detected: If nothing abnormal is detected, your doctor may recommend that you get screened again in one year.
- Lung nodules detected: About 80 percent of lung nodules are small and do not require any follow up other than a regular annual LDCT screening. Large lung nodules are more likely to be cancerous. If you have a large lung nodule, you may be referred for additional testing.
- Other conditions detected: The exam may show signs of other lung and heart conditions that are common among smokers, such as emphysema. Your doctor will discuss next steps and additional tests if there are signs of a condition that is not lung cancer.
If you have concerns about a cancer diagnosis, please call (561) 622-6111 and make a consultation with Dr. Michael Hall, Radiation Oncologist at The Medical Group of South Florida. Dr. Michael Hall can help walk you through the various treatment options available to your unique situation.
Book a consultation with Dr. Hall today!