New Recommendations in Lung Cancer Testing for Older Smokers

By May 13, 2013Healthy Aging

One of the scariest things about lung cancer is that there is no official way to detect it in its early stages. Unlike prostate or breast cancers, no tests are available to physicians for diagnosing lung cancer in its infancy. In fact, 85 percent of all lung cancers are found in advanced stages.

By the time lung cancer is usually diagnosed, the five year survival rate is only about 15 percent. Most patients do not survive the first year post-diagnosis.

Lung cancer generally doesn’t show symptoms until the disease has spread to other areas of the body. The reason for the lack of symptoms with this particular form of cancer is because the lungs don’t contain many pain receptors. Once the symptoms finally begin to show, they can vary depending on the type of lung cancer, the location of the disease and the size of the tumor. Another problem is that when symptoms occur, they are often associated with the symptoms of other common illnesses.

Recently, a trusted medical specialty group announced new guidelines for doctors in an effort to detect lung cancer before it’s too late. The group suggested that doctors run a yearly CT-scan (computed tomography scan) on every patient who is age 55 to 74 with a history of smoking. Both age and smoking put this group at the highest risk of developing lung cancer.

In addition, the group suggested patients ages 55 to 74 who are former smokers (that quit within the last 15 years) should have annual CT-scans as well. Researchers concluded that these CT-scans could decrease the number of deaths related to lung cancer after conducting the largest-ever lung cancer screening study, known as the National Lung Cancer Screening Test.

Without a doubt, one of the best things that you can do to prevent the late detection of lung cancer is to be aware of the symptoms. If you feel that your body is telling you that something is not right, talk to your doctor about it immediate. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. With that in mind, here are the common signs and symptoms of lung cancer in various stages and locations:

Lung Cancer Symptoms When Restricted to the Lung Tissue:

  • Coughing (this is the most common symptom, seen in over 50 percent of all cases)
  • Blood seen in coughed-up phlegm
  • Shortness of breath with very little activity
  • Wheezing when breathing, even at rest
  • Pain felt in the chest
  • Overall fatigue
  • Bouts of pneumonia

Lung Cancer Symptoms After Spread to Nearby Tissue/Lymph Nodes

  • Hoarseness
  • Pain when swallowing
  • High pitched sounds are heard when taking a breath
  • Excess fluid buildup in the lining of the lungs or the heart

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