November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It is a good time to remind people who may have been exposed to asbestos dust to talk to their doctor about getting a lung screening.
Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, cause both lung cancer and mesothelioma. If lodged in the lung tissue, asbestos fibers cause lung cancer. When lodged in the pleural lining of the lung, asbestos fibers cause pleural mesothelioma.
Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer
Lung cancer has a high mortality rate, with one of the lowest five-year survival rates of any cancer. It is the leading cause of death for all cancers in the U.S.
According to the American Lung Association, approximately one in 15 Americans will get lung cancer in their lifetimes, and it represents 13 percent of all cancer diagnoses. However, early detection of lung cancer is extremely beneficial and often improves patient outcomes. Those who detect lung cancer early have a higher chance of curing the disease.
A low-dose CT scan may help identify cancerous cells
Lung cancer can be revealed through x-rays and CT scans. CT scans can pick up lesions in your lungs that an x-ray may miss. However, a CT scan is not 100 percent accurate. A lesion may be benign. If lesions are found through a CT scan, your health care provider will recommend further tests, including potentially a sputum cytology or a biopsy of the abnormal tissue to see if cancer cells are present.
Getting a lung screening can be frightening. However, for people who are at risk of developing lung cancer or exhibiting signs of lung cancer, an annual screening can be life saving. Lung cancer symptoms include a persistent cough, wheezing, chest pain, weight loss and other symptoms.
A 2011 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that low-dose CT lung screens can reduce mortality in cancer patients by 20 percent. Talk to your doctor if you may have been exposed to asbestos dust and have been exhibiting signs of lung cancer.