By the time lung cancer shows noticeable symptoms, it’s safe to assume that the cancer has already spread to other organs and treatment will most likely fail. This is one of the biggest reasons why lung cancer is one of the most fatal cancers, and why the push for early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Nearly every cancer research asserts that early detection remains the most important factor in success against cancer, and in this case this fact can’t be overstated.
What causes lung cancer?
Although the exact cause of lung cancer may be unknown, smoking is the biggest and most consistent risk factor for this disease, with people who smoke cigarettes being 10-30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who do not smoke. Therefore, the first thing a smoker needs to do is quit smoking, and then consult a pulmonary specialist about their smoking history and risk level for lung cancer in order to determine which type of lung cancer screening would be the right choice.
Other risk factors for lung cancer include:
1. Age: those over the age of 40 generally have an increased risk of lung cancer, although it is possible to develop the disease at a younger age.
2. Genetics: people who have a parent or sibling with lung cancer have an increased risk for the disease even if they do not smoke.
3. Environment: exposure to toxic substances and environment pollution including cigarette smoke, asbestos, radon, arsenic, radiation, and other chemicals.
Should you be screened for lung cancer?
The risk groups highlighted above are prime candidates for lung cancer screening, although it is prudent to speak to your doctor if you suspect that you may be at risk for the disease due to additional factors. Generally, people who should be screened are:
- People between the ages of 55 and 74
- Former smokers who quit within 15 years. Even if they no longer smoke, it is still necessary to screen for lung cancer.
- People who have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years – this is known as 30 pack years.
- Those who have been exposed to toxic substances and environmental pollution including cigarette smoke, asbestos, radon, arsenic, radiation, and other chemicals.
- People who have a parent or sibling with lung cancer.
- People with respiratory conditions such as a persistent cough for more than 3 weeks with no cause.
Low Dose CT Scan: A Higher Chance of Survival through Very Early Detection
While a traditional chest x-ray would not be able to show a tumor until it’s much larger and therefore harder to treat, the low dose computerized tomography (low dose CT) scan is a very detailed screening offering a much higher resolution imaging. It can catch a tumor the size of a grain of rice, which is leaps and bounds smaller than what any other scan could detect. A low dose CT scan rotates in a spiral motion, continuously taking several images of the lungs and revealing even the smallest abnormalities. Early detection is truly possible with this revolutionary technology, and it can make a huge difference in the life outcomes of many lung cancer patients.
Why Choose Low Dose CT Screening at Bumrungrad?
The most important reason for selecting a Low Dose CT Scan is time. This scan makes it possible for doctors to detect even the smallest lesions in the lungs, as well as tumors that would normally be too small for a traditional x-ray to identify. The smaller the tumor is when it is detected, the less likely the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. Early detection means more treatment options and a higher chance of survival. Additionally, a low dose CT scan takes considerably less time than a traditional CT, and is less harmful to patients due to the low doses of radiation.
The Pulmonary Center at Bumrungrad Hospital provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to pulmonary care, complete with treatment by a highly specialized multidisciplinary team of doctors and respiratory specialists. Starting with prevention and all the way through treatment and education on healthy life choices, the team of medical professionals is ready and equipped to make sure that all patients enjoy the freedom of a healthy pulmonary and respiratory system.
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