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Screening for Lung Cancer

Screening for lung cancer as soon as possible can help to extend patients’ lives. For those at risk for lung cancer and for those whose symptoms may indicate lung cancer, Johns Hopkins offers experience, specialization, and a nationally and internationally known research program.

The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking tobacco, followed closely by exposure to certain types of chemicals. Researchers have studied screening tools for lung cancer, hoping to find a way to diagnose the cancer early to extend patients’ lives and, in some cases, to cure the disease. Because screening increases the possibility of finding the disease early and curing it, people at higher risk should be screened.

Screening Procedures

Because there are certain well-identified risks for lung cancer, primarily smoking tobacco, along with exposure to certain chemicals, such as asbestos and radon, researchers have been looking for ways to identify lung cancer early in high-risk groups. Three screening procedures are currently being evaluated:

  • Low-dose spiral CT scans (LDCT scan) use low doses of radiation to create a series of detailed pictures of the chest cavity through x-rays that scan the body in a spiral path.
  • X-rays can be used to show masses or other abnormalities in the lungs and nearby areas.
  • A sputum cytology test is done to test sputum, or mucus, samples for abnormal cells. Sputum is produced in the lungs and in the airways leading to the lungs.

While sputum tests and x-rays have been used and have found suspicious masses, they have not been proven to extend life in patients.

Low-dose spiral CT scans, however, hold the greatest promise for providing a way to screen heavy smokers and those with pulmonary nodules. The lung cancer program at Johns Hopkins offers a screening clinic that uses the low-dose CT scans.

For an appointment and answers to your questions

As a leading treatment center for lung cancer, Johns Hopkins offers its patients personalized care, specialized treatment, and pioneering therapies to extend life.

To make an appointment or if you have questions, call 410-955-LUNG (5864).

 

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