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Lung Cancer Detection

Last Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:07:18 PM

Smoking is one of the leading risk factors, causing 80-85% of lung cancer in the United States, and the degree of risk for developing lung cancer increases with the number of years the person smoked and the number of packs a day the person smoked. However, the remaining 10-15% of those diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. 

In addition to smoking other risk factors for developing lung cancer may include:

  • Radon exposure 
  • Asbestos exposure 
  • Environmental exposures to chemicals
  • Past lung illnesses
  • Your age 
  • Your  family history

It is estimated by the Lung Cancer Alliance that one in fourteen adults will be diagnosed with lung cancer during the course of a lifetime. Understanding your risk for lung cancer may be an important step to staying healthy because, like many cancers, lung cancer is most curable when it is detected and treated early.

Lung Cancer Screenings

Often lung cancers grow undetected and are only discovered when at an advanced stage because they produce symptoms that lead to diagnosis and treatment.

Screening for lung cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach and may include, along with your primary care physician, radiologists, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, oncologists, pathologists and genetic counselors. Your primary care physician can review your medical history and assess your lung cancer risk factors and to help you determine if a lung cancer screening would benefit you.

A screening for lung cancer may include a standard chest x-ray and sputum cytology (a sample of mucus or phlegm is expelled through a cough and the sample is then examined under microscope). If these tests indicate further testing is needed a bronchoscopy may be indicated and a CT scan.

In 2011 results from research done by the National Cancer Institute's National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), found that participants who received low-dose helical CT scans had a 20.0 percent lower risk of dying from lung cancer than participants who received standard chest X-rays.

REACT Clinical Trial

El Camino Hospital is participating in the REACT Clinical Trial, a study that includes a genetic test linked with other risk factors which could determine the likelihood of having lung cancer. Participants who are current smokers will receive smoking cessation counseling. All participants will undergo a low dose (CT) computed tomography image of the chest. 

More Information

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Further Reading - Health Information Articles

Lung Cancer Alliance Brochure

Image of Lung Cancer Alliance Brochure

To learn more download the brochure What You Should Know About Risks, Screening and Symptoms courtesy of the
Lung Cancer Alliance.