A reason to screen
When lung cancers are found early, they can be treated
Many more people are recommended for an annual lung cancer screening under revised guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Since symptoms of lung cancer usually don’t emerge until the disease is advanced, experts say screening helps to improve survival rates. Screening involves a low-dose computerized tomography scan, known as a CT or CAT scan. Of people who follow the screening guidelines, Jason Wallen, MD, says, “we detect their lung cancers earlier, at much more treatable stages. There are dramatic improvements in survival related to that.”
Wallen is chief of thoracic surgery at Upstate University Hospital and medical director of the lung cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at the Upstate Cancer Center.
“We are now recommending lung cancer screening for younger patients and for patients who don’t have as significant a smoking history as in the previous guidelines,” he says.
Who should be screened?
People age 50 to 80 who have:
- a 20 pack-year (see below) smoking history,
- and who continue to smoke or who have quit within the last 15 years.
A “pack year” is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. A person has a 20 pack-year history, for example, by smoking one pack a day for 20 years, or by smoking two packs a day for 10 years. (Source of screening guidelines: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force)
Contact Upstate’s lung cancer screening program by calling 315-464-7460.