And Make Plans to Come Out in Force for LUNG FORCE on Nov. 4
Quitting smoking may have been one of the hardest –and smartest –things
you’ve ever done. But for many, even if that last butt smoldered
in the ashtray five or 10 years ago, there’s the lingering concern
of whether or not you’ve truly beaten the possibility of lung disease.
“The good news is that your chances of getting lung cancer or other
smoking-related diseases decreases after you stop smoking and continues
to decline over time. However, that’s not to say that you have completely
beaten the risk of illness,” says
John Maurice, MD, a board-certified thoracic surgeon and medical director of the thoracic
oncology program at
St. Joseph Hospital, Orange. “For many current and former smokers, taking a simple lung scan
test can mean tremendous peace of mind.”
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and it’s a great time to
learn about low-dose CT scanning. It’s not for everyone, but a recent
study on early detection of lung cancer found that the low-dose CT scan
can significantly reduce mortality for those at high risk.
Who exactly is the scan for? It’s only for high-risk candidates,
which means you must be between 55 and 80 years of age, have a history
of smoking the equivalent of a pack-a-day for 30 years (which could also
be smoking two packs-a-day for 15 years, etc.), and be a current smoker
or have quit within the last 15 years. At this time, there is not enough
evidence to show that screening is recommended for other groups of people.
Before getting your screen, you should know that there is some radiation
risk with the low-dose scan, and you may need other procedures or tests.
You should talk with a doctor who understands your complete health history
before taking the test. Also note that this is much different from a simple
chest x-ray, which is not recommended for lung cancer screening.
After the test, you’ll want to discuss all your findings with your
doctor. A "positive" result means that the low-dose CT scan
shows something abnormal, typically a nodule that is big enough to be
concerning. You will need additional scans or other procedures, depending
on what your care team recommends. A "negative" result means
there were no abnormal findings found by the scan at this time. It does
not mean that you will never get lung cancer. Your doctor should discuss
when and if you should be tested again. An "indeterminate" result
typically means doctors will wait and recommend follow-up imaging at a
If you don’t qualify for the scan, talk to your doctor about other
ways to reduce your risk of smoking-related illness. You should absolutely
avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Additionally, you may consider testing
your house for radon, an odorless gas linked to lung cancer. A home that
tests high for radon should be repaired immediately by a certified radon
Of course, the best way to reduce your risk is to either stop smoking or
continue to live smoking-free. If you smoke, talk to your doctor or follow
this helpful advice from HealthCalling to get started. You can also visit
Lung.org/stop-smoking for more information.
And if you want to help advance research to prevent and treat lung cancer
–which is now the #1 cancer killer of women –and other lung
diseases, join St. Joseph Hoag Health for the Lung Force Walk in Mason
Regional Park in Irvine on Nov. 4
By joining the walk and helping to raise funds, you can make a difference
for those who suffer not just from cancer, but also complex lung problems
such as asthma and COPD (which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis).
Learn more about
St. Joseph Hospital, Orange. Learn more about