(Mirror Daily, United States) – Low-dose CT scans could identify lung cancer in its earlier stages and improve survival chances for patients diagnosed with the disease. According to recent research using low-dose CT scans to identify lung cancer in its early stages could offer some benefits for patients. It seems that more cases are successfully diagnosed in the early stages by using the low-dose CT scans rather than x-rays.
It is of vital importance that lung cancer is found early as the survival rate of patients suffering from this disease drops abruptly when it is caught in its final stages. Patients with stage one lung cancer have a survival rate of 50 percent over a period of five year while the same rate for lung cancer patients with stage four lung cancer is of only 5 percent within the first 5 years.
Radiologist Dr. Juan Jimenez explains that the low-dose CT scan is currently only being recommended for smoking adults with ages between 55 and 74 who have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for at least 30 years or for patients who have quit smoking within the last 15 years. The scan is not recommended for people already experiencing symptoms which could indicate the onset of lung cancer such as coughing or chest pains, as it is better for them to take a regular CT scan instead.
But lung cancer is also complicated to identify because most symptoms do not manifest themselves during the early stages of the disease. This results in many patients being diagnosed with advanced stages of lung cancer because their symptoms have only started to appear when the disease has advanced.
The American Cancer Society has stated that there are both benefits and downsides to the low-dose CT scan. A recent study shows that there has been a 16 percent decrease in the risk of dying because of lung cancer for people that have had a low-dose CT scan as opposed to an X-ray. However according to data from the same ACS study, these CT scans sometimes find abnormalities that are not cancerous but might require further investigation.
One in four scans detects abnormalities in or near the lungs but out of the total amount of abnormalities detected by low-dose CT scans most turn out to be non-cancerous. Opting for the low-dose CT scan should also take into account the risk of lung cancer that the patient has, in order to determine if that risk outweighs the one posed by exposure to radiation.
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