early detection of lung cancer

early detection of lung cancer

Of all the things that are unknown about lung cancer, one thing is clear: Early lung cancer detection is key to survival. Those who are fortunate enough to have the cancer detected before it has the chance to spread have a survivability rate of approximately 50 percent. For cancers that have spread, the survivability rate goes down to 2 percent. Early lung cancer detection is especially problematic because there are no universally-approved methods, though there are several options.

Recognizing Symptoms
For those who have symptoms of lung cancer -- such as a persistent cough, sputum in the cough, and difficulty breathing -- getting to the doctor for a test is recommended. Lung cancer can strike at nearly any age, though it is more prevalent in those over the age of 60 or in those who have a history of smoking. Some types of work environments have also been known to cause lung cancer, such as those with asbestos and microwave popcorn plants.

Consulting a Doctor
Talking with a doctor is the next step. The doctor will review your medical history, ask a few questions and perhaps offer a referral to an oncologist. This is specialist in the medical field who is trained to treat cancer patients. Many insurance carriers will require a visit to a primary care provider before offering services. The primary care provider will then offer a referral. It is important the oncologist is part of your insurance program.

Tests
There are a number of ways an individual can be tested for cancer. CT scans take a picture of the chest. Doctors can analyze this picture and determine if cancer is a concern. A bronchoscopy is another test that involves inserting a tube with a small camera attached into the lungs for an examination. Sputum can also be examined for the presence of cancer cells. In some cases, once one test is completed, there may be a follow-up test done of a different type to confirm the suspicions.

Other Tests
If the tests confirm cancer, there is a good chance that follow-up tests will be done to determine how far the cancer has spread. This is why early detection is so important. If the cancer has not yet spread to other areas of the body, there is a good chance of treatment and containment. Further the treatment options are also more diverse if lung cancer is detected early.

Treatment Options for Early Lung Cancer
Though most people understand there is the possibility of chemotherapy and radiation, there are other types of treatments that are often done if detected early. Surgery is often one of the most effective options. This also offers one of the quickest ways to get rid of the cancer. Radiation may also be an option, but has more side effects and often takes longer.