Lung cancer originates in the lungs — our organs that are responsible for inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. As lung cancer develops, abnormal cells grow within the lungs, causing damage and invading nearby lung tissue, lymph nodes, or organs. It’s the most principal cause of cancer in America for both men and women and is often not recognized until symptoms begin.
As the lung cancer stages increase, it becomes more difficult to treat.
Thankfully, lung cancer screening can help detect it earlier and lead to a more positive outlook for treatment. There are certain lung cancer screening guidelines, however, that should be followed to avoid the risk of unnecessary screenings and risks.
Let’s take a closer look at these screening guidelines, so you can know whether or not it’s time to schedule a screening with your health care professional.
Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
The lung cancer screening guidelines and recommendations can differ slightly based on the organization, which can often lead to confusion as to whether or not you should get screened. The American Cancer Society, for example, states “age 55 to 74 years” while The American College of Chest Physicians and American Lung Association increase that age range to 77 years. The U.S. Preventative Task Force says 80 years. (1,3)
These organizations are assessing the same data, yet interpreting it in slightly different ways — which accounts for the variations in their reports.
Because the lung cancer screening guidelines of The American Cancer Society are perhaps the most well-known, we’ll turn to their guidelines to give you an overview. (1)
- The patient is between 55 to 74 years and in relatively good health.
- The patient has a 30 (or more) pack-year smoking history.
- The patient either currently smokes or has quit within the past 15 years.
- The patient receives evidence-based smoking cessation counseling if they are current smokings.
- The patient has undergone a process of informed/shared decision making that included information about the potential benefits, limitations, and harms of screening with low-dose CT.
- The patient has access to a high-volume, high-quality lung cancer screening program and treatment center.
Keep in mind that a “pack year” refers to averaging one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. If a person can have what’s called a 30 pack-year if they smoke one pack per day for 30 years (or two packs per day for 15 years). (1)
When Does Lung Screening Stop?
The Task Force suggests that annual screening for lung cancer stops when a person turns 81 years or older, hasn’t smoked in 15 or more years, or develops a health problem that makes surgery not an option, should lung cancer be detected. (2)
Smoking is a Large Risk Factor
Lung cancer mortality and smoking are correlated. Depending on your smoking status, you may want to ask your primary care provider if you need to plan a chest ct scan or screening trial for early detection. Additionally, lung cancer cases have been linked to exposure to secondhand smoke, even at a low dose. If you are living or frequently with a smoker, this is a risk factor.(4)
What Are the Risks of Lung Cancer Screening?
Lung cancer screening does come with risks, which is why it’s recommended only for adults who are at higher risk for developing the disease.
According to the CDC, there are three distinct risks for lung cancer screening: (2)
- If otherwise healthy individuals do repeat screenings, the radiation exposure from the screening test can cause cancer.
- A lung cancer screening can find causes of cancer (that may have not ever posed a problem for a patient). This can lead to overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment.
- A lung cancer screening test can have a false-positive result, suggesting that a person has lung cancer when they do not. This can lead to unnecessary follow-up tests, surgeries, and additional risks.
If you are considering lung cancer screening, it’s important that you first discuss this with your doctor to see if it’s the right choice and your screening eligibility. If you do need to be screened, make sure to get screened at a high-quality screening facility.
Lung Cancer Treatment and Screening at ITC
At Immunity Therapy Center, we usually do cancer screening in one of three ways. Imaging tests refer to an x-ray that can look for abnormal masses or a CT screening to show small cell lung cancer and lesions. We also perform a sputum cytology. If you have a cough that produces sputum, that sample can be analyzed under a microscope to see if lung cancer cells are present. Finally, there is the option of a lung tissue sample, a biopsy in which abnormal cells may be removed and then further analyzed.
In our holistic cancer treatment clinic, we understand that cancer is different for everyone. We use a variety of alternative Cancer treatment options to strengthen your immune system and target your cancer cells. Depending on what type of cancer you have, the stage, and the location, we’ll come up with a natural cancer treatment combination of therapies that works for you.
If you’d like to discuss lung cancer screening guidelines or hear more about our customized alternative therapy lung cancer treatment plans, reach out to Immunity Therapy Center today.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
- “Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines and Recommendations.” cdc.gov, September 22, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/pdf/lung-cancer-screening-recommendations-508.pdf. Accessed April 17, 2020.
- “Who Should Be Screened for Lung Cancer?” cdc.gov, September 18, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/screening.htm. Accessed April 17, 2020.
- Howley, Elaine. “What to Know About Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines.” health.usnews.com, August 6, 2018, https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2018-08-06/what-to-know-about-lung-cancer-screening-guidelines. Accessed April 17, 2020.
- “Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.” cdc.gov, February 27, 2020.https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.