Over the last decade, the increase in awareness about the importance of early cancer detection has saved countless lives.
In January 2020, The American Cancer Society reported the largest one year drop in cancer deaths ever recorded. The decrease in lung cancer deaths, specifically, drove that drop, showing an annual reduction of four to five percent each year since 2013.
CT lung screenings.
“The number one reason for a CT lung screening is for detecting lung cancer in people that are of high risk,” Nelson says.
CT stands for computed tomography. It’s a diagnostic imaging technique that uses a combination of low dose x-rays and technology to produce detailed images of the body.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and the survival rate of lung cancer isn’t great once it has reached later stages, Nelson says.
“So, if we can get it at an early stage, there’s a much better chance of survival,” he adds. “With the CT scans we can see (abnormalities) that are less than a millimeter in size. It’s unbelievable the quality and the technology that we have.”
In addition to lung cancer, aneurysms, COPD, emphysema, lesions, masses, and other conditions can be detected on a lung screening.
Medicare currently covers CT lung cancer screenings for individuals ages 50 to 77 who either still smoke or have quit smoking within the last 15 years and who have a 20-pack year smoking history.
One “pack-year” is defined as smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for an entire year.
Anyone can request a CT lung screening, Nelson says.
Aurora BayCare Medical Center’s Lung Cancer Screening program is available to anyone who feels they might be at risk.
In the video, Nelson reviews some CT scans and discusses what he looks for during a CT lung screening.
He also discusses the advancements in technology, the importance of early detection and what that means for patients.
Watch the discussion to learn more.