Detecting Lung Cancer Early (Screening)
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 8, 2013
I smoked a lot for a long time, but I quit 5 years ago. Is there anything I can do to prevent getting lung cancer or to increase my chances of getting it detected early?
Anil Vachani, MD, Pulmonologist at Penn Medicine, responds:
A recent large randomized study has demonstrated that CT screening can lead to decreased mortality from lung cancer in patients at high risk (age over 55 and a strong cigarette use history), but we also know that the false positive rate of CT screening is high (i.e. the large majority of people found to have a lung nodule or other abnormality by screening will NOT have lung cancer). Given this risk of false positives findings, it is not clear if lung cancer screening should be recommended for high-risk patients. Formal guidelines have started to be implemented to address if lung cancer screening with CT scans should be more widely applied to active or former smokers. In the meantime, your risk of developing a lung cancer will decrease, as you get further out from last smoking. Along with avoiding second-hand smoke, eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise, things that can strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entirel transcript from the Focus on Lung Cancer webchat.