The Best Way To Detect Lung Cancer Early

There are several ways to determine if someone is eligible for lung cancer screening. Read more to learn how people can learn if they are eligible to be screened.

Nov. 6, 2023 4   min read

Lung cancer concept. Doctor explaining results of lung check up from x-ray scan chest on digital tablet screen to patient. The doctor is analyzing and clarifying images of the patient's lung X-rays.

The leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States is lung cancer. More than 127,000 people are estimated to have died in 2023 from this specific form of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Experts say the most effective way to prevent lung cancer is regular screenings. Screenings are quick, painless, and non-invasive. Currently, just 15 percent of all people who are eligible for a lung cancer screening follow through with one, leaving millions of people at risk for developing advanced lung cancer without any possible early intervention.

Laurie Lerner, MD, is a pulmonary disease specialist with Rochester Regional Health and explains how people can determine if they are eligible for a lung cancer screening.

Check If You Are Eligible

Lung cancer screening eligibility

Lung cancer screenings find cancer when it is smaller and potentially easier to treat. The earlier cancer is detected, the earlier treatment can begin, which leads to a greater chance of a cure.

Rochester Regional Health incorporates guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for lung cancer screenings, and looks for eligible patients to meet the following criteria:

  • Ages 50-80
  • No signs/symptoms of lung cancer
  • Smoking history of at least 20 pack years
    • Pack years = number of packs per day X number of years smoked
  • Current smoker or smoker who quit within the last 15 years

Updated guidelines from the American Cancer Society suggest “for individuals who formerly smoked, the number of [years since quitting smoking] is not an eligibility criterion to begin or to stop screening.”

This change would result in more people being screened. At the same time, most insurance companies only cover lung cancer screenings based on the current guidelines – which include screening both current smokers and smokers who quit within the last 15 years.

“The most significant step any person can take to reduce their risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking immediately,” Dr. Lerner said.

How to get screened

Once a patient is approved for screening, the process itself is quick, painless, and non-invasive. Most insurance providers cover the cost of annual screenings. Rochester Regional Health strongly encourages anyone who currently smokes or used to smoke and meets the eligibility guidelines to reach out to their insurance provider to determine if they are covered.

Screenings can be scheduled by calling our Lung Cancer Screening Program at (585) 922-5285.

Once the screening is scheduled, patients will undergo a low-dose CT scan which is recommended to be completed annually. If abnormal findings are detected, patients may further tests to determine if cancer is present, or have repeat CT scans at recommended intervals.

“If lung cancer is identified early on, the chances are greater that it can be treated successfully,” Dr. Lerner said. “Screening is the most important tool we have in the fight against lung cancer.”

NEXT STEPS Take The Time For Your Health

No one wants to believe they might have lung cancer – even if they meet some or all of the listed criteria for a lung cancer screening. The good news is that the earlier lung cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. Providers with Rochester Regional Health will focus on what is best for you and your health from day one.

Take Our Quiz To See If You Are Eligible
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