Can a screening test catch lung cancer early?


At least until now most lung cancer is found at a late stage because the symptoms can take years to develop. CONTRIBUTED

Dashing up the stairs or sprinting to the car can leave many of us out of breath. And while it can usually be explained away by activity or a minor illness, chronic shortness of breath could be a sign of something more serious: lung cancer.

Because the symptoms can take years to develop, most lung cancer is found at a late stage, when treatment options have limited success. But there is good news: Doctors now have a screening test that can catch lung cancer early. It’s called low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).

LDCT produces cross-sectional images of the entire chest, including the lungs, using special x-ray equipment and sophisticated computers. These images enable doctors to detect very small growths in the lung.

What are the benefits of screenings? The biggest benefit is that it can find lung cancer in its beginning stages, which helps lower the risk of dying from the disease. Early diagnosis also means that doctors can often use minimally invasive surgery to remove the cancer and preserve more lung tissue.

Other benefits of LDCT include:

• It’s fast,…