Screening a person for lung cancer could help save his or her life. Not everybody needs to participate in lung cancer screenings, but current and former smokers who are between the ages of 50 and 77 should consider yearly exams with a physician or oncologist. However, once a former smoker has spent 15 years tobacco-free, lung cancer screenings have limited value. A person’s risk of developing cancer gets lower and lower the longer he or she abstains from using tobacco products, and after 15 years, the chance of developing a malignancy is low enough that screenings can be discontinued.
For individuals who are presently at risk for lung cancer, however, screenings are exceptionally important because early detection is linked with better survival rates. When tumors are found early, they are often eligible for a wider range of treatments and are associated with better outcomes as a result.
A typical lung cancer screening will consist of:
- A low-dose CT scan
- A physical workup
- A discussion of the patient’s overall health
- Tobacco counseling, if the patient is still using tobacco products
If a person’s screening results indicate that cancer might be present, additional testing (such as a cellular biopsy) may be ordered.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, a Lung Cancer Alliance-designated Screening Center of Excellence, our Lung Cancer Screening and Surveillance Program offers all of these screening options in two convenient locations. Any unusual results are sent to our multispecialty tumor board for an in-depth review, and individualized recommendations for further action are made. Smoking cessation programs and other resources are also available. Referrals are not necessary to schedule an appointment.