Early Treatment Makes a Difference in Lung Cancer Outcomes
Widely accepted as the deadliest form of cancer, lung cancer strikes an estimated 221,000 Americans each year. Some 158,000 people in the United States, men and women alike, die from the disease. At present, the survival rate for lung cancer patients is rather low. Only about 15 percent or so of all patients diagnosed in various stages survive to see the five-year mark.
Doctors are hoping to change this by using a relatively new early screening protocol that has been shown to reduce mortality while enhancing the ability to effectively treat the disease. In the past, lung cancer screening was problematic at best with many people only finding out they had the disease when it was in its more advanced, less treatable forms.
Since early stage lung cancer presents with no symptoms, finding the disease early is troublesome to begin with. The new screening procedure, however, increases the chances by zeroing in on patients who are at higher risk for the disease. People who have smoked for 30 years or more, for example, are now often eligible for more aggressive screening programs. The screening involves the use of low-dose computed tomography to more clearly see inside the body to the lungs themselves. This procedure enables greater accuracy in detecting lung tumors early when surgical removal is more likely to lead to a cure.
The new annual screening procedure is now recommended as part of national medical guidelines. It is called for when patients are heavy smokers between the ages of 55 to 79. The screening procedure has proven itself quite effective. It has been shown to lower the chances of a patient dying from lung cancer by 20 percent.
People who are at risk for lung cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers about early screening. Finding this disease in its earliest stages can greatly increase survival chances.