CT_scanNew research provides some much-needed hope in the fight against lung cancer. Results of the National Lung Screening Trial released in August of 2011 showed that screening with low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) scans compared to chest X-ray reduced lung cancer deaths among older heavy smokers by 20 percent. Improved detection at earlier stages, when lung cancer is much more easily treated, is key to increased survival.

For information about UAMS’ lung cancer screening program, call (501) 944-5934.

Lung cancer screening is not beneficial for everyone. People who meet the following criteria are at the highest risk for lung cancer and may qualify for screening:

  • Current smoker or former smoker who has quit within the past 15 years
  • Ages 55 to 80 years
  • Smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (this means one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
  • Healthy enough to tolerate surgery (not on oxygen)
  • No recent cancer diagnosis

Low-dose CT scan is the only method recommended for screening. There is some radiation risk with a CT scan and you may need to have additional tests and procedures. Our Lung Cancer Team will explain the procedure and tell you about the risks and benefits. Check with your insurance company about coverage for this procedure.

If you have a suspicious screening result, something abnormal was found on your scan. It may or may not mean you have cancer, and you may need additional procedures to determine your condition.

If you have a negative result, there were no abnormal findings on your scan. However, this does not absolutely mean you don’t have lung cancer or will never get lung cancer.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to never smoke or to stop smoking now. If you are still smoking, talk to your doctor about how to quit with the help of smoking cessation programs at UAMS.

Information provided by the American Lung Association.