Low-dose CT screening offers reassurance to people at high risk for the disease.
If you smoke, are a former heavy smoker or know you’ve been exposed to dangerous substances like asbestos, you’re well aware of your increased risk of developing lung cancer. What you may not know is that you can protect your health by undergoing regular lung cancer screening—and we can help.
Low-dose CT (computed tomography) lung cancer screening is one of the best-kept secrets in preventive health care, says Catherine Oberg, MD, director of interventional pulmonology for UCLA in the South Bay area. Dr. Oberg and her colleagues provide lung cancer screening under a partnership with Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance.
“Oftentimes, I mention screening to patients and they have never heard of it,” she says. “I think some people don’t realize that even if you quit smoking up to 15 years ago— depending on pack-year history and age—you are still very much eligible for screening and may still need this. Lung cancer is a very scary thing. If they know they can do something to try to catch it early, most people are willing to do screening.”
Low-dose lung cancer screening is a process. People who meet the criteria for being at high risk for the disease undergo a simple low-dose CT screen. The amount of radiation involved is closer to that of a chest X-ray rather than a traditional CT scan, Dr. Oberg says. If the scan shows nothing of concern, the patient returns for screening annually. If the scan shows a suspicious lesion, physicians may recommend closer monitoring of the lesion with more frequent screening or a biopsy.
The value of screening is that it can detect small cancerous or precancerous lesions that can be removed or treated before they become life- threatening, Dr. Oberg says.
“Early detection is critical, especially for something like lung cancer,” she says. “Unfortunately, there are common types of lung cancer that can progress very quickly. If you don’t detect lung cancer until a late stage, when it is widespread or metastasized, there are limited treatment options for those patients.”
A major government-funded study found a 20 percent reduction in deaths from lung cancer among current or former heavy smokers who were screened with low- dose CT, as compared with those screened with a chest X-ray.
We offer a state-of-the-art lung cancer screening program that includes a multidisciplinary team of interventional pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, interventional radiologists, pathologists, thoracic radiologists and a lung cancer navigator.
“You don’t just get a CT scan,” Dr. Oberg says. “You need a multidisciplinary team to follow up on the results and make the appropriate recommendations. This is what sets us apart. People should know they have a team of physicians who specialize in this area and will work with them over the long haul.”
CRITERIA FOR LUNG CANCER SCREENING
- People aged 55 to 74 who are current smokers
- Former heavy smokers who have quit within the past 15 years
- People who have at least a
- 30-pack-year smoking history
For more information on low- dose CT lung cancer screening, call 844-925-0942.
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