Survival rates for lung cancer are normally quite low, because the disease is often found late after the cancer has spread. If it can be found early before symptoms appear, the chances of survival skyrocket, according to Brooke Leibfreid, Lung Cancer Care Coordinator at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne. She says annually screening those at risk for lung cancer will save lives.
The hospital now offers low dose lung CT scans for current or former heavy smokers, those who have smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or 2 packs for 15 years. You must be between 55 and 77 years of age and have no symptoms of lung cancer. If you quit smoking, it must be within the last 15 years to qualify. Leibfreid says the scans can find and track small changes in the lung when the abnormalities are small, before the cancer has spread and when it can be more easily treated. Finding and treating lung cancer at this early stage can be lifesaving.
Without the scans, most lung cancers are found once symptoms appear and that happens when tumors are large or the cancer has spread. Symptoms of lung cancer include persistent cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, or unexplained weight loss. Treatment normally includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.
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