How is Radiology Used to Detect Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women (not counting skin cancer). It makes up almost 25% of all cancer deaths.

The American Cancer Society estimates that for lung cancer in the United States for 2022:

  • About 236,740 new cases of lung cancer (117,910 in men and 118,830 in women)
  • About 130,180 deaths from lung cancer (68,820 in men and 61,360 in women)

Lung Cancer Risk

While lung cancer mainly occurs in people age 65 and older, a small number of people diagnosed are younger than 45. For patients with a high risk of lung cancer, regular screening for early detection is essential. While several risk factors may increase a person’s chance of getting cancer, cigarette smoking is at the top of the list. Even if you quit smoking, your risk is higher than that of people who never smoked.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening for the following people:

  • Are 50 to 80 years old and in reasonably good health,
  • Currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years,
  • Have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history. (This is the number of packs of cigarettes per day multiplied by the number of years smoked. For example, someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 10 years [2 x 10 = 20] has 20 pack-years of smoking, as does a person who smoked 1 pack a day for 20 years [1 x 20 = 20].)

Radiology Screening for Lung Cancer

Advances in technology have made it easier for doctors to detect lung cancer in its early stages. When lung cancer is caught early – sometimes before symptoms start – patients have a lower risk of dying from the disease.

The best test for lung cancer is a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan. This type of test is non-invasive and uses x-ray and computer technology. It provides multiple images of the lungs while using a much lower amount of radiation than a standard CT scan. This lower dose is important because lung cancer patients are screened more frequently.

An LDCT can detect small tumors so they can be diagnosed and treated at the earliest stage of cancer.

Choosing the Right Screening Facility

Lung cancer screening should only be done at places with the right type of CT scanner. Also, having radiologists on staff who have experience in LDCT scans for lung cancer screenings is essential. At West County Radiological Group, we have a team of over 80 highly skilled radiologists. For over 50 years, we’ve been a leader in providing radiological screening, diagnostic, and interventional solutions to hospitals and patients for the St. Louis region and beyond.