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Should You Undergo Lung Cancer Screening if You Have a History of Smoking?

Should You Undergo Lung Cancer Screening if You Have a History of Smoking?

Congratulations on quitting smoking! This is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and a good way to minimize your risk of many cancers, including lung, trachea, bronchial, esophageal, and colon cancers. 

Unfortunately, a history of smoking, even if you’ve quit, means your risk of developing or dying from lung cancer is about 30 times higher compared to people who’ve never smoked. Even if you only smoked occasionally or a single cigarette a day, your risk is still about 15 times higher. 

The board-certified providers at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute are dedicated to helping patients in the Los Angeles area enjoy the best lung health possible. Our team provides comprehensive lung care, including life-saving lung cancer screenings. 

Keep reading to learn what’s involved with this important health exam and who should undergo a lung cancer screening.

What is lung cancer screening? 

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in America, but the most lethal, leading to the most deaths by cancer every year. This is because lung cancer doesn’t trigger noticeable symptoms in most people until it’s more advanced.

For this reason, early detection plays a key role in helping patients survive lung cancer. One of the most effective ways to detect lung cancer is with lung cancer screening. In fact, if your lung cancer is caught early—before it spreads—you have a 60% improved likelihood of survival. 

The exact nature of your lung cancer screening depends on your health history, current health and symptoms, age, and smoking history. Most lung cancer screenings start with a physical exam during which your provider listens to your lungs and asks you questions. 

You can then expect to have a special chest X-ray and/or a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan. During a low-dose CT scan, a special X-ray machine makes detailed images of your lungs. 

The exam only takes a few minutes, and it’s not painful. The results can show abnormalities in the lungs that regular X-rays can’t find as early, improving your chances of survival if you’re diagnosed with lung cancer

Do all people with a history of smoking need a screening?

Lung cancer screenings are designed to catch lung cancer early, before you develop symptoms. If you have symptoms, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with a provider at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute as you may need additional testing.

For people who have a history of smoking and don’t have symptoms, you should get a screening if you’re at high risk for lung cancer. This includes:

pack-year means smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes a day for a year. You can reach the 20 pack-year history in different ways. For example, the following three people all have a 20 pack-year history:

In most cases, both private insurance plans and Medicare cover or help pay for recommended lung cancer screenings. Talk to your provider for help determining if you’re eligible for a screening. 

Take the next step in protecting your lung health by scheduling a screening for lung cancer online or over the phone with a provider at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute. 

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