What to Know About Lung Cancer, Early Detection and Reducing the Risks

February 15, 2017

With lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, the disease makes up about 25% of all cancer deaths across the nation as well as in Arkansas. And with that in mind, it’s good to become familiar with the latest developments in early detection and how to reduce the risks.

“Traditionally, screening for lung cancer has been largely ineffective in catching the disease in the early stages,” David Hays, M.D., Medical Director of Radiology at CARTI. “Many cases are not detected until the cancer has progressed, making treatment difficult and outcomes bleak.”

However, there is hope with CARTI’s Super Premium Low-Dose CT Scanner. Recent research has found that low-dose CT screenings show promise for detecting lung cancer in high risk individuals who have not yet shown symptoms. A National Institute of Health study demonstrates that low-dose screenings could reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent by catching it early— when it is more likely to be cured.

Low-dose CT scans are recommended for those who meet the following criteria:
Current or former smokers 55 to 77 years old.
Smoking history of at least 30 pack years. (To determine your pack years, multiply the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years that you smoked. To reach 30 pack years, you would need to smoke a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, etc. Even if your smoking habits have changed, talk to your doctor to calculate your number of pack years.)
Generally in good health with no history of lung cancer.
The appointment takes about 30 minutes, is painless and is covered by Medicare (with a physician referral) and most insurance providers. For those who want to self-pay, the cost is $100. Appointments can be made by calling 501-906-4434 or 800-482-8561 by either you or your family physician.

For those who want to reduce the risks of lung cancer, there are steps to take.
“The most important and immediate step is to quit smoking if you are one of the 40 million Americans who smoke,” said Carolyn Garrett, the Coordinator for CARTI’s Patient Resource Center. “Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, resulting in 8 out of 10 lung cancer deaths.”

“Quitting Smoking is not easy, but there are support programs, nicotine substitutions and medicines that can help,” Garrett said. “CARTI offers the American Lung Association’s “Freedom for Smoking Program” free of charge to anyone who wants to stop smoking.” The next class is scheduled for March 16 at 5.30 p.m. The 7-week class will be held at the CARTI Cancer Center. Registration is required as seating is limited. Call Carolyn Garrett at 501-660-7610 or email her at cgarrett@carti.com for more information or to sign up.