Could I Be At Risk For Developing Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Smoking tobacco is the leading risk factor for developing lung cancer. Your risk increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age significantly lowers your risk of developing lung cancer. Other risk factors for lung cancer include exposure to second-hand smoke, exposure to radon, exposure to asbestos or other hazardous materials common for those who work in the construction or chemical industries, and a family history of lung cancer.
Should I Have A Lung Screening Exam?
If you are 55 or older and a heavy smoker (defined as a 30 “pack-year” habit) you may benefit from screening. Physicians refer to “30 pack-year habit” when someone has smoked a pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years or three packs a day for 10 years. If you were a heavy smoker and quit within the last 15 years or meet any of the other high risk criteria, lung screening may also be beneficial.
Findings from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) conducted by the National Cancer Institute were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. The NLST findings confirm that screening with low-dose CT in high risk people reduces mortality from lung cancer by at least 20%.