New Guidelines for Lung Cancer Screening
- Actor Ben Affleck, 51, is known to be a heavy smoker. New guidelines published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians call for annual lung cancer screening for people aged 50 to 80 years old if they are heavy smokers with roughly 20 years of smoking history.
- Lung cancer doesn’t cause symptoms until it has already spread outside the lungs, making it harder to catch in its early stages. It predominantly impacts people with a history of smoking, although this cancer can also impact non-smokers.
- Lung cancer screening is painless and lasts only a few minutes. It involves using a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). While lying on a table, an X-ray will scan your lungs for anything unusual, such as a shadow over the lungs.
- Treatment options for lung cancer depend on its type, its location, and its staging. In general, treatment methods include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of any of these treatments.
Actor Ben Affleck, 51, has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, but he’s also developed quite a reputation as a heavy smoker of cigarettes. Smoking poses many health risks, including being a leading cause of lung cancer. For heavy smokers like Affleck, new guidelines published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians call for annual lung cancer screening for people aged 50 to 80 years old.
Affleck, known for movies such as “Deep Water,” “The Accountant” and “The Tender Bar,” smoking habit has been a talking point not just for his famous wife, Jennifer Lopez, 54, but also for co-starring actors such as Sandra Bullock, 59. Lopez reportedly “hates” Affleck’s smoking habit, Radar Online reports.Read More
“This updated guideline continues a trend of expanding eligibility for lung cancer screening in a way that will result in many more deaths prevented by expanding the eligibility criteria for screening to detect lung cancer early,” said Dr. Robert Smith, senior vice president, early cancer detection science at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the lung cancer screening guideline report.
Lung cancer screening is painless and lasts only a few minutes. It involves using a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). While lying on a table, an X-ray will scan your lungs for anything unusual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains.
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Smoking and Lung Cancer Risk
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in the United States. Nonsmokers still get lung cancer, but cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for the disease. Tobacco smoke contains a mixture of more than 7,000 different chemicals, at least 70 of which are known to cause cancer, the CDC says.
The CDC says cigarette smoking is linked to about 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths, and people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who don’t smoke. Additionally, second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer.
Smoking is, of course, the primary cause of lung cancer, but nonsmokers can and do develop this disease. Researchers have made progress in understanding the differences between lung cancer in smokers versus nonsmokers, says Dr. Ronald Natale, a medical oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and they’re developing targeted treatments that will be able to address the genetic drivers of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
“Among patients who are nonsmokers, or former very light smokers, we identify a mutation that we can target with pills in about 60% to 70% of them. That leaves 30% or so, 40%, in whom we either have a target for which we do not have successful treatment,” Dr. Ronald Natale, a medical oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet.
“Among patients who are smokers, who have more complex cancers that have hundreds, sometimes thousands of mutations, don’t have a driver mutation that we can give a pill for, which is only a tiny percentage of lifelong smokers. Chemotherapy is the primary treatment in most patients,” Dr. Natale explains further.
Understanding Lung Cancer
Lung cancer forms when cancer cells develop in the tissues of the lung. It is the second most common form of cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S., SurvivorNet experts say. The reason being, it’s “completely asymptomatic,” says thoracic surgeon-in-chief at Temple University Health System Dr. Joseph Friedberg.
“It causes no issues until it has spread somewhere. So, if it spreads to the bones, it may cause pain. If it spreads to the brain, it may cause something not subtle, like a seizure,” Dr. Friedberg adds.
WATCH: Detecting lung cancer in the absence of symptoms.
Scans such as X-rays can help doctors determine if a shadow appears, which can prompt further testing for lung cancer.
Lung cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms until it has already spread outside the lungs, according to SurvivorNet’s experts.
There are two main types of lung cancer, which doctors group together based on how they act and how they’re treated:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type and makes up about 85% of cases.
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is less common, but it tends to grow faster than NSCLC and is treated very differently.
If you quit smoking, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease and dying from it.
Treatment options for lung cancer depend on its type, its location, and its staging. In general, treatment methods include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of any of these treatments.