MAYWOOD, IL – On the eve of the annual Great American Smokeout, Loyola Medicine wants to remind smokers that the key to surviving lung cancer is to detect it early, when it is most treatable.
Since Loyola began offering CT lung cancer screening to people at high risk, nearly 1,000 smokers have been screened and early-stage lung cancer was found in 15 smokers before they experienced symptoms.
Of course, the best way to prevent lung cancer and many other health problems is to not take up smoking, or quit if you have started. Many smokers will try quitting on Thursday, November 17 during the annual Great American Smokeout.
“Quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improving the length and quality of life,” said Loyola family physician Amy Buchanan, MD. “Smoking is addictive and the habit can be tough to overcome but there are plenty of things smokers can do to improve their chances of successfully quitting, such as setting a quit date and not getting discouraged if you slip up.”
Loyola is a strong advocate for tobacco cessation and programs that prevent young people from ever taking up the habit. For example, Loyola supports Illinois Senate Bill 3011, known as Tobacco 21, which would increase the smoking age in Illinois from 18 to 21. Nearly nine of out of 10 smokers start before they turn 18, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
For longtime smokers, it’s critical to get screened early for lung cancer. Following American Cancer Society guidelines, Loyola offers lung cancer screening for people aged 55 to 77 who are in fairly good health, have smoked the equivalent of at least a pack a day for 30 years or more or have quit within the past 15 years.
Loyola performs the gold standard test of lung cancer screening: low-dose spiral CT scan (LDCT scan). An X-ray machine scans the body in a spiral path, and a computer produces highly detailed pictures of the lungs. The procedure uses low-dose radiation and is not recommended for people who are at average risk for lung cancer.