Published on November 20, 2020

Should you have a lung CT scan? Significant cancer survival rates support screening for at-risk group

Lung scan

Lisa Phares had a lung CT (computed tomography) scan after a lung-capacity screening indicated she might have some sort of obstruction that was hindering deep breathing. The scan detected a small mass that turned out to be cancer — found, fortunately, at a very early, very treatable stage.

Phares wasn’t the typical candidate for a lung CT, but there is a clearly defined group, and they may also find the screening life-saving. Both the American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce recommend annual lung CT scans for people who:

  • Are aged 55 to 74 years and in fairly good health, and
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years, and
  • Have a smoking history of at least “30 pack years” (To calculate yours, click here)

The recommendation was made after a study showed lung cancer deaths could be reduced by 20 percent as a result of the early detection the scans provide.

“That study changed the landscape,” says Dr. Grant Swanson, medical director of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Now, with further follow-up 10 years out in a European study, the reduction in lung cancer deaths has risen to 39 percent. This is a tremendously lethal disease, which is why screening is so important. If every person at high risk for lung cancer were screened, it could result in about 30,000 fewer lung cancer deaths a year.”

If a nodule is detected in a scan, further testing is done to determine whether it is cancerous; in most cases, it is not.

Montage Medical Group has a screening service for patients who have “lung nodules,” a broad term for a small oval or round growth in the lung. Doctors throughout the community can refer patients to the screening service for follow-up, including a CT scan if one wasn’t already done.

Montage Medical Group’s screening service will provide:

  • Consultation with a pulmonologist with extensive knowledge of lung-nodule management
  • Reviews of CT images
  • Risk calculation and analysis of pulmonary nodules
  • Advanced bronchoscopy with guided technology

The CT scans can be done at Community Hospital, which is designated a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology, signifying that it is a top-quality provider of safe, effective diagnostic imaging for those at high risk for lung cancer.

“Lung cancer is a complex disease,” says Swanson,“ so the earlier it is discovered and treated, the better for the patient.”

Learn more.

Meet Montage Medical Group’s pulmonologists

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