Only about 14 percent of all new cancers are lung cancers, but it is overwhelmingly the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women. Each year, more Americans die from lung cancer than from colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
The Importance of Early Detection
While the outlook for those diagnosed with lung cancer is very serious, early detection is key to treating this disease. Symptoms generally only appear once lung cancer is already in an advanced stage. However, modern early detection methods have made it far easier to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages.
Screening Tests for Lung Cancer
The currently recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (low-dose CT scan, or LDCT). It is proven to be more effective than chest x-rays in detecting lung abnormalities. According to a large national trial of this screening process, at-risk patients who received LDCT screening had a 20 percent lower chance of dying from lung cancer than those who did not receive the screening.
Who Should Get Screened
The American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommend yearly lung cancer screening with LDCT for people who meet all of the following criteria:
You have a history of heavy smoking.
You smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years.
You are between 55 and 80 years old.