“One breath, and four seconds later … saved his life.”
Although lung cancer has numerous causes, the most common risk comes from smoking. As smokers, many people have decided that lung cancer may be inevitable – making a fatalistic judgement call based on their age, years of smoking, and an acceptance of the addictive nature of cigarette smoking.
Others feel it’s too late because they have smoked for years or tell themselves “my parents smoked for years without getting cancer.” They don’t have symptoms such as “smokers cough”, hacking, wheezing, or other issues.
Learn more below, then make an educated decision based on facts.
You cannot beat the odds of lung cancer
Your risk for lung cancer compared to someone who never smoked? 25% higher.
Is it better to live not knowing? Is it better to live in fear? Don’t be scared, get screened. As shown in Terry’s video story, a lack of symptoms does not mean there are not cancerous cells present in your lungs.
Lung cancer myths & facts
I’m fine. I smoke and don’t have a cough or other issues.
CT lung cancer screening is specifically for those without any symptoms. People who have potentially cancerous nodules or tumors in their lungs typically do not feel anything or have symptoms until the cancer has spread. If you are in a high-risk group, consider screening even if your health seems perfect.
“I stopped smoking a decade ago. I’m okay.”
The majority of lung cancer victims are ex-smokers. Approximately 10% of men and 20% of women with lung cancer never smoked.
“It’s too late to quit smoking.”
Quitting has immediate benefits including improved circulation, breathing, and more. Ten years after quitting, your odds of developing lung cancer drop by half (50%).
“Nothing was found on my CT lung screening. I don’t need further testing.”
Even if you quit years ago, lung cancer can arise. If you are a current or former smoker, it’s prudent to get a CT lung screening yearly. Your doctor can help you make this decision. It’s important to note that Medicare and most insurance companies cover a yearly CT lung screening exam.
“If they find lung cancer, it’s a death sentence anyway. So why get screened?”
This is one of the more pervasive myths out there. Many former and current smokers say they know the dangers, and figure they are going to die anyway. However – and this is crucial – if lung cancer is caught early enough there is up to a 92% chance of survival.
“It’s OK to smoke marijuana.”
Smoking marijuana may raise lung cancer risk, and many who smoke pot also smoke cigarettes.
“Is smoking a pipe or cigar the same as a cigarette?”
These items also put you risk for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, and esophagus. Cigars also have a higher risk factor for heart disease.
“Do things show up on the test that are not cancer? Can I trust the test?”
Many adults have spots on the lungs which are not cancer. Guidelines help RMI radiologists determine if a sport is likely cancerous. They will send the results of your study to your physician who will discuss these results with you.
Early detection can save your life
You may have heard this before, but the statistic is astounding. If lung cancer is caught early, there is a 92% chance of survival. If caught later, lung cancer survival drops to just 15%. To find potentially cancerous nodules early enough, doctors must be able to see them, and CT lung screening is the test that can do just that.
X-rays are not enough
Early diagnosis with a CT Lung Screening procedure is critical. It is the ONLY proven and effective way to screen for smaller nodules. Although chest x-rays are commonly used, they are two-dimensional (2D) images of limited sensitivity. Tumors less than 1/2 inch in size (smaller than a marble) are often missed.
With a CT Lung Screening, low-dose x-rays are taken in a spiral pattern to make a 3D image of the lungs. It can spot nodules as small as flea (2.5 mm in size).
Lung cancer by the numbers
60% Number of lung cancer patients who are former smokers who quit decades earlier.
13% Lung cancer cases from causes other than smoking (radon gas, asbestos, etc.).
33% Lung cancer accounts for 33% of all cancer deaths across all ethnic groups.
16% Lung cancers diagnosed at earliest, most curable stage. Waiting decreases survival.
20% Reduction in lung cancer deaths by using CT lung screening vs. X-ray alone.
Paying for CT lung cancer screening may be handled through insurance or direct payment. RMI highly recommends a yearly CT lung cancer screening for at-risk patients. Eligibility requirements are:
- 55-76 years of age
- Current smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
- Have smoked at least 30 pack years (an average of 1 pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years, more for a shorter period of time, or less for longer)
- Pack years = (cigarettes per day x years smoked) ÷ 20
- Have not had a history of lung cancer or lung cancer symptoms
In some cases, doctors may recommend CT lung cancer screening for current or former smokers who do not meet these exact criteria, based on an individual assessment of lung cancer risk.
If you believe you are at risk for lung cancer, your first step is to discuss your smoking history or other risk factors with your primary care provider. While the best way to reduce lung cancer risk is to stop smoking, your doctor may decide that a CT lung screening is appropriate for you. Your physician can also contact RMI at (810) 732-1919 to consult with a radiologist about CT lung cancer screening.
Pack years calculators
To check to see if you qualify for CT lung screening based on pack-years, use one of the following pack-year calculators.
Smoking Pack Years: includes calculators for cigar, pipe, water pipe, cigarillos
Cigarette Calculator: calculates number smoked and packs per day
Lung Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (American Association for Thoracic Surgery): a very comprehensive tool with a fine level of detail
No Insurance? RMI provides an affordable option.
RMI accepts self-pay/cash payment at the time of service for CT lung screenings. Our significantly discounted cash price makes the exam affordable for patients who must pay out of pocket and typically costs less than a month of smoking.
CT lung screening procedures
Fast, affordable, and safe
CT lung screening procedures take just 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds — half a minute — can save your life or add years to it.
Although CT lung screenings are more costly than chest x-rays, we cannot state it more clearly: chest x-rays are not enough. CT lung screenings reduce deaths from lung cancer 20%. For at-risk persons, an annual CT lung screening is strongly recommended.
With either insurance coverage or our cash-pay option, there is no reason not to get screened at RMI. RMI’s offices are dedicated to patient comfort and speed and designed to make you feel at ease and secure knowing you are in the best hands. As our motto states, it’s “Our family taking care of your family.”
Concerned about radiation? We are dedicated to patient safety, first and foremost, and use a low-dose CT protocol. Learn more about CT Lung Screening radiation safety here.
RMI’s dedicated team
Our CT lung screening team is led by Dr. Ehab Youssef, who specializes in cardio-thoracic radiology and is a passionate about lung cancer screening. Dr. Youssef and the RMI team will work with your provider to get the answers needed to make a prompt and accurate diagnosis of your lung health. Read more about Dr. Youssef.
Want to learn more? Visit any of the resources below so you can make an educated decision.
- Top 10 Lung Cancer Myths – Common Misconceptions About Lung Cancer, lungevity,org
- Lung Cancer Risks: Myths & Facts (slideshow), WebMD.com
- State Cancer Profiles. Incident Rates. http://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/incidencerates/
- Michigan Department of Community Health. Cancer. http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-2944_5323—,00.html
- Simon, S. New Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines for Heavy Smokers. American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/new-lung-cancer-screening-guidelines-for-heavy-smokers