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Why Is Lung Cancer Hard to Detect?
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and that’s because many of its symptoms don’t become apparent until the cancer is in an advanced stage. Since the lungs cannot be seen or felt, it’s harder to detect if something is wrong until troublesome symptoms appear, such as a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath and unexplained weight loss. However, individuals who may be at higher risk for the condition—such as those who smoke or have smoked in the past—can be proactive about their lung health by undergoing annual lung cancer screenings.
What is a lung cancer screening?
A lung cancer screening can identify abnormalities in the lungs to detect cancer in its early stages. Cancer found when it is small and hasn’t had a chance to spread is more likely to be successfully treated. Lung cancer screenings are available to individuals who meet the following criteria:
- Between the ages of 55 and 77
- A current smoker or has quit within the past 15 years
- Has a 30 pack-year history of smoking, which is the number of years smoked multiplied by the number of packs of cigarettes smoked daily
Additional risk factors that may qualify individuals for a lung cancer screening include being exposed to occupational hazards such as radon or asbestos, having a family history of lung cancer and/or being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to lung cancer screenings
Moffitt Cancer Center has been named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance thanks in part to our comprehensive lung cancer screening program. This program includes high-definition CT scans, professional tumor board reviews by a multispecialty team of lung cancer specialists to evaluate any abnormal results, preferential appointments with our medical oncologists and admission to tobacco treatment and smoking cessation programs. We also offer additional support and clinical services, including one-on-one counseling and group therapy.