Lung cancer is the most deadly cancer in the US and globally, and roughly 85% of people who get lung cancer are current heavy smokers and those who have quit within the last 15 years.
If you are or were once a heavy smoker, you should know about Low Dose Computed Tomography, or LDCT. In a randomized clinical trial of current and former heavy smokers, those who presently or previously reached 30-pack years – which is the number of packs smoked a day multiplied by the number of years spent smoking – LDCT proved to catch nodules in the lung while they were still small and localized enough to be medically treated. In fact, participants who received diagnostic testing with LDCT had 20% fewer lung cancer deaths than those given conventional chest x-rays. For the one in five whose lives were saved by LDCT, that is a significant improvement in care.
If you have smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years, you are considered a heavy smoker. Early discovery is crucial for survival because once lung cancer produces symptoms like wheezing, a bloody or chronic cough or weight loss, it most often indicates that cancer has spread outside the lung, where it can be impossible to treat. If you are or were a heavy smoker, the American Lung Association and other health organizations recommend annual LDCT screening. The test is quick and painless, with up to 90% less ionizing radiation than conventional CT scanning, so it is considered safe and effective.
The good news is that lungs heal quickly, so quitting is always beneficial, no matter what your age or how long you have smoked. And if you need help quitting smoking, there are resources designed to assist you, including medication and counseling.
Talk to your doctor about LDCT screening today. It is a quick, easy test that could save your life.
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