According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), doctors recommend lung cancer screening for patients between the ages of 55 and 80 who currently smoke or have a history of heavy smoking within the past 15 years.
The Mayo Clinic adds that other factors may contribute to an individual’s increased risk of lung cancer, which may make them candidates for lung cancer screening. Additional risk factors include:
- History of lung cancer or other chronic lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Family history of lung cancer and related diseases.
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals, such as asbestos.
Lung Cancer Screening Can Benefit High-Risk Individuals
Approximately 57% of patients with lung cancer did not receive their diagnosis until it had reached its most advanced stage. At this point, less than 10% of patients survive beyond five years from the date of diagnosis. The medical community aims to fight this statistic with the implementation of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk for the disease.
Like traditional CT scans, LDCT imaging shows detailed 3D pictures of the inside of your body to help doctors identify the potential presence of cancer. LDCT technology uses significantly less radiation than chest CT X-rays. Many health organizations endorse the use of LDCT for the early detection of lung cancer, including:
- American Cancer Society
- American Lung Association
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network
If your doctor recommends that you have a lung cancer screening, it does not mean they believe that you have cancer. It means that they have determined that you have a high risk of developing the disease, and LDCT can detect it in its earliest stages, making it easier to treat.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that while only 17% of lung cancers get diagnosed in the localized stage when the cancer is confined to the primary site, the five-year relative survival rate was 59% at that stage. LDCT testing involves no needles, medications, or dyes and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Why Doctors Recommend Lung Cancer Screening for High-Risk Individuals
Doctors determine who lung cancer screening may benefit based on their risk factors, which include lifestyle and hereditary considerations that have a confirmed link to the development of the disease.
Although LDCT involves lower risks than other forms of imaging, they may not outweigh the benefits for non-smokers and younger people. As a result, professionals recommend LDCT only for people they consider having an increased risk for lung cancer.
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How Long Doctors Recommend Receiving Regular Lung Cancer Screenings
Doctors typically recommend that patients who fall under the high-risk category but also have certain serious medical conditions avoid LDCT scanning, because the screening and follow-up tests that may follow can lead to complications.
Medical providers usually advise that high-risk patients continue lung cancer screening as part of their regular preventive healthcare routine until they:
- Turn 81 years of age.
- Have not smoked in 15 years.
- Develop another serious health condition.
Exposure to Dangerous Substances
While cigarette smoking plays the most significant role in putting individuals in the high-risk category, environmental factors can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer. For decades, workers in many industries experienced regular exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen. This toxic substance can cause a form of lung cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, known as mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can take up to 50 years to develop, so even after the exposure ends, the risk of developing a chronic lung condition remains high. For this reason, doctors may suggest that those who worked with or around asbestos be screened for lung cancer.
Exposure to radon and chemicals present in second-hand smoke can also lead to lung cancer, and many individuals do not know about their exposure or struggle to protect themselves against it.
Apartment building owners who do not regularly check radon levels and allow tenants to smoke can increase others’ risks. Lax laws regarding smoke-free environments in places like bars, restaurants, and casinos around the country contribute to the exposure of employees and guests. If your doctor determines that regular exposure to toxic chemicals increased your risk of lung cancer, they may recommend LDCT screening.
The Attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help You
For many years, consumers did not know the hazards of cigarette smoking and exposure to dangerous chemicals. Some companies worked to cover this information up, while others failed to take the health of their employees, tenants, and guests seriously.
Despite overwhelming evidence, some individuals still suffer exposure to carcinogens due to someone else’s negligence. If your lung cancer screening detects the disease because of exposure to chemicals you did not know about or could not avoid, the legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek justice and compensation. Contact us today at (800) 217-6099 to discuss the details of your case with a team member.