The smaller any cancer tumor is when found, the better chances a patient has to survive. So precisely what is a low dose CT scan for lung cancer screening and how can this new tool be beneficial for you or a loved one?
Advantages Of A Low Dose CT Scan For Lung Cancer Screening
This new screening tool for lung cancer has many advantages compared with a normal X-ray to detect lung cancer. It is also known as a spiral or helical CT scan since it continually rotates in a spiral motion.
It produces images that are very detailed and can show extremely small early stage lung cancer cells that are too small to be visible on a traditional X-ray. For example, traditional X-rays can detect tumors the size of a dime, but the low dose CT Scan can show lung cancer cells the size of a grain of rice.
The ability to find these minute cancer cells has multiple advantages:
- Small tumors are less likely to have spread to other parts of the body
- There are more treatment options
- They are easier to treat
- Patients have a better chance of survival.
- Reduces the need for surgery
Another advantage of the low dose CT scan is its ability to be performed within one minute.
Who Should Be Screened
Screening tests are used for finding diseases before any symptoms. Therefore, the cancer is usually at its most treatable stage.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in the US and worldwide, and 85% of lung cancer deaths affect current or former cigarette smokers.
The CDC recommends using low dose computed tomography for individuals with a high risk of developing lung cancer.
In general, risk factors for developing lung cancer include the following:
- Smoking tobacco*
- Exposure to radon, asbestos or other cancer causing agents
- Personal or family history of lung cancer
- Having certain chronic lung diseases
*The CDC further recommends annual screenings and defines those with risk factors as those who:
- 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.