Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the world killing more people than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined. In the United States alone, 225,000 are diagnosed with lung cancer, resulting in about 160,000 deaths.
Despite this tragic statistic, there is hope. Recent advancements in lung cancer screening and early detection are proving hope for patients and their families that haven't existed before. Through lung cancer low-does computed tomography (LDCT) screening, it could dramatically change the disease statistics in the future and save thousands of lives.
Dr. Marc McClelland, a pulmonologist with Spectrum Health Medical Group talks about how this new technology is currently helping people detect lung cancer.
A majority of lung cancer cases are diagnosed after the disease is spread in the body, in which people rarely survive more than five years. However if the cancer is detected early and the tumor is still localized, 55 to 75 percent of patients make it through the five-year survival rate and even end up being cured of lung cancer.
There are many reasons other than smoking that can cause a person to develop lung cancer. Risk factors include:
- Exposure to Radon
- Exposure to asbestos and other known cancer causing agents
- Family or personal history of lung cancer
- radiation therapy
One of the challenges of finding lung cancer early is that most people with lung cancer only show symptoms when it's in the later stages of the disease. With LDCT, Spectrum Health can use these tests to look for the cancer before a person has symptoms.
The National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) showed that a baseline LDCT screen followed by two annual screens, can significantly reduce lung cancer deaths in high risk individuals (those who are over the age of 55 with a smoking history.)
Many people who develop lung cancer do not fit the high-risk profile. People who have never smoked, under the age of 55, or quit smoking a long time ago also fit the profile for a lung cancer screening.
The ultimate goal is to develop a reliable and broadly available test for lung cancer that can catch the disease early even in people not considered high-risk.
Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, private health insurance companies now cover low-dose CT screenings for high risk individuals.
To schedule a screening with Spectrum Health, call (616) 486-LUNG to talk with a lung cancer screening clinic nurse who will review the screening criteria and help determine if you're eligible.