About Lung Cancer
Cells in the lungs can become abnormal over time, and may not die off as part of the body’s natural process of renewal. As these abnormal cells reproduce they gradually form a tumor in the lung. Due to the size of the lungs, these tumors often go undetected for years. We treat the most common types of lung cancer, including small-cell lung cancers and non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC).
Accounting for 90% of lung cancer diagnoses, smoking is the top risk factor. However, other risk factors include:
- Exposure to asbestos and other hazardous materials and chemicals
- Exposure to radon gas
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Family history of lung cancer
Signs & Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Like most cancers, symptoms of lung cancer don’t tend to present themselves until later stages. Symptoms of advanced stage lung cancer can include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Persistent cough
- Trouble breathing and shortness of breath
- Discomfort in the chest and surrounding areas
- Coughing up mucus or phlegm
- Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, call your doctor and schedule a lung cancer screening. From there your doctor will decide which diagnostic test you may qualify for.
Lung Cancer Screening
Depending on your risk, your doctor may encourage you to undergo regular, preventative CT scan screenings. CT lung cancer screening is recommended for those at high risk for cancer, including individuals who:
- Are between the ages of 50 and 77 and enrolled in Medicare, or between the ages of 50 and 80 and enrolled in a commercial insurance
- Show no signs or symptoms of lung cancer (worsening cough, hoarseness, cough producing bloody material, unexplained weight loss)
- Have a 20-pack-year tobacco smoking history (one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, two packs of cigarettes a day for 10 years, or other combinations. Pack a year history = number of packs per day x number of years)
- Is a current smoker or has quit within the past 15 years
As with any cancer, the earlier you can find lung cancer, the better. Preventative lung cancer screenings for high-risk patients is a key component of early detection and intervention. At SSM Health, we are committed to finding your lung cancer - and to helping you decide your next steps - so talk to your doctor today about whether preventative screening is right for you.