This tool could help with early detection of lung cancer in smokers

Dr. Rachel

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and doctors have a new screening tool for the early detection of the disease in people at higher risk of being diagnosed. And, it can save lives.

A low-dose CT scan can detect abnormal areas in your lungs that may be cancer. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women. It is also the leading cause of death from cancer.

\When found in the early stage before the cancer has spread, it is more likely to be treated. This new screening tool is recommended for the following people with all three of these characteristics:

  • 50 to 80 years of age in fairly good health
  • Currently a smoker or have quit in the past 15 years
  • Have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history

Dr. Rachel says this method is used to determine the extent of a person’s smoking. Doctors take the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day and multiply that number by the number of years they smoke.

For example, if you smoke 2 packs a day for 10 years, then you have 20 pack-years of smoking.

The low-dose CT scanner is only available at certain facilities. The center must also have a team of specialists that can help you get the appropriate care and follow-up.

If you are at higher risk for lung cancer, talk to your doctor to see if the yearly screening is right for you. Learn more about the screening by clicking here.

Have questions for Dr. Rachel? Email her at

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