Lung cancer awareness—a 10-minute screening could save your life!
By Shannon Traphagen
Nearly everyone knows the word mammogram, and the importance for women at an average risk of developing breast cancer to begin getting screened at age 40. But it may be shocking to learn that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among both men and women. In fact, each year more people die from lung cancer than prostate, breast, and colon cancers combined.
“Usually people hear lung cancer and immediately think that it comes from smoking,” said Travis Mastroianni, D.O., a board-certified radiologist at Southtowns Radiology. “And while that is often true, even people who have never touched a cigarette are diagnosed daily with lung cancer.”
However, a low dose 10-minute CT scan to screen for lung cancer is available, and could save approximately 20,000 lives each year. With November being lung cancer awareness month, here are some things you can do to be proactive with your health:
Talk to your doctor about a lung cancer screening. Conversations about preventive screening start with your primary care provider. “As a patient, you are your own best advocate. You know your family history and lifestyle. If you have a family history, you can always call your provider to ask for the test. It’s better to ask than assume they will come to you with this information,” said Dr. Mastroianni.
Know who is at risk. Over the course of their lifetime, about one in 15 men and one in 17 women will develop lung cancer. Current smokers, those who have quit within the last 15 years, or those who have a history of 30 pack years of smoking (see www.lung.org to calculate), should be especially mindful of changes in their lung health, such as a cough that doesn’t go away, persistent wheezing, or shortness of breath. “About 20 percent of patients who die from lung cancer are non-smokers,” said Dr. Mastroianni. “Having a history of smoking is certainly a major risk factor, but it is not the only consideration. Exposure to radon, asbestos, or even repeated exposure to diesel exhaust should also be part of the conversation.”
Seek out a designated lung cancer screening center near you. Early detection always provides the best chance for positive outcomes. “There have been several advancements in treatment of lung cancer in the last few years,” said Dr. Mastroianni. “Video-assisted robotics for minimally invasive thoracic surgeries and very targeted drug therapies are on the horizon. However, the key is finding suspicious tissue early, and an annual screening is the best first step.”
As a designated lung cancer screening center accredited by the American College of Radiology, Southtowns Radiology offers low-dose chest CT scans (often covered by insurance) at both their Hamburg and Orchard Park offices. Early morning, evening, and Saturday appointments are also available. For more information and to schedule a low dose chest CT for lung cancer screening, visit www.southtownsradiology.com or call 716-649-9000.