Why Schedule a Screening
Lung Cancer Kills
More people die of lung cancer than any other type of cancer in the United States. Each year, it accounts for nearly 160,000 deaths, and approximately 3,000 deaths in Maryland. The reason, in large part, is because lung cancer is often diagnosed when it is too late for effective treatment.
Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages and even later, lung cancer is not obvious. When any of the following symptoms occur, the cancer is usually advanced:
- Chronic cough or hoarseness
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Coughing up blood or sputum that is blood tinged
- Chest pain
- Frequent fatigue
- Swelling in the neck
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
A person may smoke for many years and experience no apparent symptoms of lung cancer. But after repeated exposure to cancer-causing substances in cigarettes, the tissue in the lungs begins to change. Abnormal cells develop and grow into tumors. When the tumors grow too large, they inhibit breathing. Too often a person’s tumor is detected after (s)he exhibits symptoms of the disease and the tumor is already large.
Early Treatment Means Increased Survival
Generally speaking, the smaller the tumor, the more treatable it is. The key is discovering the tumor while there are no symptoms of the disease. Recent statistics imply a person diagnosed with lung cancer after exhibiting symptoms has only a 15 percent chance of survival for five years. A person whose lung cancer is discovered through screening prior to displaying obvious symptoms could have up to a 70 percent chance of survival for five years.
Screening May Result in Early Detection
Recent evidence suggests that screening with computerized tomography (CT scan) may be an effective means of preventing deaths from lung cancer. Many experts believe that a CT scan can detect abnormal spots on the lungs while the tumors are most treatable. Lung cancer tumors typically are about the size of an orange by the time they are discovered. However, most lesions detected on CT are no larger than a grain of rice, and can be found long before they would appear on a traditional chest X-ray. MedStar Harbor Hospital is one of very few area hospitals making this technology available to people who believe they are at risk for lung cancer.
All CT images are reviewed by board-certified radiologists who provide both the patient and physician with the results of the test and a recommendation for follow up. Depending on whether any lung abnormalities are detected and their size, the patient may find that further CT scans or a lung biopsy are recommended.
Call 410-350-2563 for more information or to schedule your low-cost scan.
Back to Lung Cancer