By Robert Hyslop, MD
These days, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who has been untouched by the scourge of lung cancer. As the most common cause of cancer deaths in America, lung cancer strikes both the young and the old, and men and women from all walks of life. Although heavily associated with smoking, this terrible disease can even strike nonsmokers up to 15% of the time. Fortunately, smoking education and cessation campaigns have been successful and smoking rates are on the decline. However, lung cancer can strike even those who have successfully quit the habit and medical science has been working hard for decades to fight this epidemic. Unfortunately, it is often too late to successfully intervene once the cancer has shown its face by way of a nagging cough, weight loss, fatigue, or myriad other symptoms. Beginning in only a single cell, this deadly group of tumors grows often undetected for years before clinical symptoms occur and, in many cases, the tumor has spread to other organs—rendering treatment options only palliative. Early detection is, therefore, the best, and currently only, hope for a cure in most cases.
Recently, after years of hard work and many trials, it has been shown that annual low-dose screening CT scans could be used to find and follow tiny possible early cancers of the lung and allow for early treatments.
In the past, CT scans were too slow, costly, and of poor resolution to allow early detection while keeping radiation doses low. However, rapid technological advancements in recent years have allowed for low dose but highly detailed scans to be made, often in just seconds, that allow doctors to nd possible cancers as early as possible.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released recommendations advising adults with at least 30 pack-years of smoking history (1 pack per day for 30 years, or 2 packs per day for 15 years, etc.) between the ages of 55 to 74 to undergo an annual low-dose screening. Depending on multiple factors, lung cancer mortality could be reduced as much as 20%! Of course, quitting is the best medicine and all smokers are encouraged to kick the habit as soon as possible.
The scan itself couldn’t be easier and involves no needles or pain. One simply lays on his or her back on the comfortable CT table and is scanned while holding a short breath. Radiation exposure is minimal. The detailed images are reviewed by a specially trained board-certi ed radiologist.
At OutPatient Imaging’s (OPI) brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in Buckhead, a screening CT exam can be performed in just minutes. Conveniently located off Peachtree Road in the Peachtree Square Shopping Center, OPI can perform your scan quickly and ef ciently. OPI offers screenings not just for lung cancer, but for cardiac disease (calcium scoring CT scans), breast cancer (mammography and breast ultrasound), stroke (carotid ultrasound), aortic aneurysms (aortic ultrasound), and others.