Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in men and women.
Eighty-five percent of lung cancer patients are in a late stage of the disease upon diagnosis because, until now, there haven’t been effective screening methods for lung cancer.
Currently, low dose CT scans are being used to detect nodules in the lungs in earlier stages of the disease.
The overall five year survival rate with a lung cancer diagnosis is only 15 percent; however, if diagnosed in stage I, the five year survival rate increases to 80 percent.
If lung cancer is detected early, patients may be candidates for minimally invasive treatments, and can possibly avoid the need for chemotherapy.
Individuals between the ages of 55 to 75, with a 30 pack year history of smoking (one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years), are recommended to be screened for lung cancer using this low dose CT scan method.
Although this can help improve lung cancer survival rates, some cases are still being detected in late stage using the low dose CT scan.
Therefore, if you smoke, quit now! Smoking not only increases your risk of developing cancer, but also other serious health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Those who smoke or have a history of smoking should discuss methods of quitting and ensuring overall health and wellbeing with their doctor.
Dr. Steven Hendrickson is a thoracic surgeon for Triad Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery and member of Cone Health medical staff.
Dr. Hendrickson is a 1989 graduate of Duke University School of Medicine.
He completed his residency in general surgery at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center.