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Published on March 01, 2016

On the lookout for lung cancer

Screening test can help save lives

lung cancerDid you know lung cancer might not cause any symptoms until it’s in its later stages? That’s why it’s important to know whether you’re at risk—and get screened if you are.

Who should be screened?

According to Lewis J. Rose, MD, a Jefferson oncologist with Mercy Hematology/Oncology at Nazareth Hospital and Chairman of Nazareth’s Cancer Committee, an annual lung cancer screening is recommended for people who:

  • Are 55 to 74 years old with no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
  • Smoke now or who quit within the last 15 years
  • Have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 pack years. (A pack year equals smoking 20 cigarettes every day for one year.)

What is the screening test?

“The Nazareth Lung Cancer Screening Program uses low-dose CT chest scans to check for signs of cancer,” Dr. Rose says. “Studies show that this screening reduced the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent in patients age 55 to 74 who had a smoking history of at least 30 pack years.”

Medicare and most insurance plans pay for the screening, but you need a prescription, so ask your doctor.

When lung cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be effective. And the chance of survival goes up.

Depending on your scan, you may need additional tests. Dr. Rose says about 25 percent of lung CT scans do show something suspicious. But, he adds, “Most of the time, it’s not cancer.”

He also offers this important reminder: Screening is not a substitute for quitting smoking. “You will be counseled to stop smoking,” he says.


There is more ...

Learn more about Nazareth’s Lung Cancer Screening Program at mercyhealth.org/healthylung.

Lung Cancer: By the Numbers

80: The percentage of lung cancers caused by smoking.

27: The percentage of all cancer deaths caused by lung cancer—more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

2 of 3: The portion of people diagnosed with lung cancer who are 65 or older.

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