Early detection of lung cancer is vital, so why do experts only recommend screenings for high-risk patients?
Lung cancer is a truly devastating disease.
It can be aggressive, painful, weakening, and life-threatening. Anyone whose life has been touched by this medical issue knows that it should not be taken lightly. Because the condition rarely shows early signs, detection through screenings is usually the only way to discover whether a person has lung cancer.
Despite the nature of the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations do not recommend large-scale lung cancer screenings for all people. Rather, they recommend it only for high-risk men and women.
However, the final choice is yours. You’ll want to consult with your doctors and your loved ones, but in the end, it’s a deeply personal choice that only you can make.
So how do you know if you’re at risk? How can you decide whether lung cancer screenings are right for you? With the right approach and the right information, you’ll be able to decide whether or not you should be checked for this disease.
Understand the risks involved with screenings
There is a strong reason why many medical professionals and cancer experts only recommend screenings for high-risk patients, and it comes down to “false-positives.” When using a CT scan to search for lung cancer, it is possible to find signs of the disease where none exist.
These false-positives can lead to aggressive measures or unnecessary treatments, and can cause significant stress for patients and their families. There is also a slight risk of exposure to radiation, so keeping the screening procedures to a minimum is an appropriate practice.
The risk factors behind lung cancer
While medical experts caution against overzealous screenings, there are some cases where the benefits outweigh the risks.
The most obvious risk factor is smoking. If you have a history of heavy smoking, you are at a far-greater risk for developing lung cancer. In this case, you will likely benefit from lung cancer screenings, but having a history of smoking alone is not enough for medical experts to recommend the screening procedures. You must also be an active smoker or have been a habitual smoker within the last 15 years and be between the ages of 55 and 80. So anyone below the age of 55, despite their smoking habits, should not have lung cancer screenings, at least according to the CDC.
What are the signs of lung cancer?
As we discussed earlier, one of the major challenges with lung cancer is its lack of signs and symptoms. There are very few indicators, but there are some.
If you have a cough that gets progressively worse and will not go away, or if you have chest pain that becomes more intense with deep breathing, it could be a sign of lung cancer. Hoarseness, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing up blood, and shortness of breath could all indicate the disease. However, all of these problems could easily be related to other medical issues, further complicating cancer detection.
Get the right information for your long-term health
In the end, having a lung cancer screening like a CT scan is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.
If you have additional questions, you meet the risk factors, or if you and your doctor have decided that a screening is right for you, contact POM MRI and you’ll get the information you need, and the service you deserve.