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It’s Lung Cancer Awareness Day

If you have symptoms of Lung cancer like

  • a persistent unexplained cough,
  • unexplained weight loss or
  • unexplained hoarseness

then it’s fine for your Doctor to do a Chest X-ray  to see if you might have lung cancer, but if it’s normal, you should go on to have a CT Scan of your lungs. This is because a chest x-ray can miss up to 60% of lung cancers.

But what if you have no symptoms?. Screening for Lung cancer, which is when we look for lung cancer before you even have symptoms is NOT best done on a CXR. So much so that The US Preventative task force advises against routine screening for lung cancer with a CXR. This is because as mentioned they miss a lot of early cancers. The correct test is a low dose spiral CT lung scan…. and not in just ANYONE. You should meet the following criteria:

  • 50-80 years old
  • Smoked at least 20 pack years
  • Be currently smoking or given up less than 15 years ago.

Screening by Chest X-ray has not proven to save lives. All unnecessary X-rays do is to give you a dose of radiation you for no reason. Think about it: If you are a young fit person who has never smoked and you have no symptoms, why would you want to give yourself a dose of radiation you don’t need?

If someone is offering you a CXR as part of an “Annual or Routine” medical without an indication eg: Chest pain, shortness of breath etc. then my advice would be to decline. This is “Bad Medicine”

Tests should be requested after an experienced doctor does a  a thorough history and examination and requests appropriate tests for you. More tests do not necessarily mean a “better” or “more complete” medical. Sometimes they are masking inexperience or worse yet, there to make the provider more money.

So what can you do? Stop Smoking! Research has shown that you are 4 times more likely to be successful giving up smoking if you use Smoking cessation counselling alongside Nicotine replacement therapy. Call Our Nurse Charlene for a free referral to a trained Stop Smoking advisor.