Posts Tagged ‘lung ct’

What Is Lung CT Scan & How Does It Work?

Lung CT scan provides more detailed information than conventional X-rays making it possible to diagnose & manage lung cancer earlier & more effectively.A lung CT (computed tomography) scan creates detailed pictures of the structures in your chest, such as your lungs. A lung CT scan provides more detailed information than conventional X-rays making it possible to diagnose & manage lung cancer earlier & more effectively. This blog explains what lung CT is and answers some common questions you may be asking as well. If you have more questions, please post them in the comments below and we will respond gladly.

Computed Tomography, commonly known as CT or CAT scanning, is a non-invasive diagnostic tool. CT uses a specialized form of X-ray, coupled with computer technology, to produce cross-sectional images (slices) of soft tissue, organs, bone and blood vessels in any area of the body. CT lung cancer screening has revolutionized medical imaging by providing more detailed information than conventional X-rays and, ultimately, offering better care for patients.

Imaging methods to examine the lungs include chest X-ray, low-radiation-dose chest Computed Tomography (CT) and standard-radiation-dose chest CT. Low-radiation-dose CT is appropriate for cancer screening because it has been demonstrated to be more sensitive than X-ray in detecting cancer, with less radiation exposure than standard chest CT.

CT technology is used to detect pulmonary nodules, collections of abnormal tissue in the lungs that may be early manifestations of lung cancer. These nodules are often detectable by CT before physical symptoms of lung cancer develop. Early detection of pulmonary nodules through CT screenings has been shown to improve survival compared with patients not undergoing lung CT scan.

Many people have pulmonary nodules, but not all are cancerous. In fact, most nodules are caused by scar tissue from a prior lung infection and are not cancerous. Computed Tomography (CT) Screening frequently detects small nodules that are later determined to be non-cancerous. If you have benign nodules, you’ll be asked to return for a CT screening yearly for one or two years to make sure they don’t grow. If a nodule is concerning for cancer, further diagnostic testing will be recommended.

Common Lung CT Screening Questions

Why Is CT Used?

CT scans are used to check the size and structure of an organ or other soft tissue and determine if it’s infected, solid or filled with fluid. The scans are used to diagnose tumors, cancers, spinal injuries, heart disease, vascular conditions, brain disorders and various other abnormalities within the body. CT scans also are used to rapidly diagnose traumatic injuries and to guide a number of minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies, catheter placement, fluid drainage and duct and vessel stenting.

How Does CT Work?

CT uses X-rays to detect and record the amount of radiation absorbed by different tissues. During a CT scan, an X-ray tube focuses a precise beam of energy on a section of the body. A computer analyzes the readings from X-rays taken at thousands of different points and converts the information into images radiologists and other doctors use to analyze internal organs and tissue.

Is CT Safe?

Although there’s no conclusive evidence that radiation from diagnostic X-rays causes cancer, some studies of large populations exposed to radiation from other sources have demonstrated slight increases in cancer risk. However, smokers have a much greater risk of developing lung cancer. The chance of developing lung cancer in one’s lifetime is approximately one in 13 for males and one in 16 for females (combined smokers and non-smokers). The risk of developing lung cancer due to a single CT scan of the chest is estimated to be one in 10,000. Because the risk of developing lung cancer is much greater than the added risk from a CT scan, and smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, we feel the benefits of CT screening for lung cancer in patients with a significant history of smoking outweigh the risks of radiation exposure. The radiation dose for CT lung screening is considered “low-dose” because the radiation exposure is less than a CT scan of the chest that’s done for a diagnosed medical problem.

Please note: A physician’s order is required for the Lung CT Scan. If you do not have this information, please make an appointment with your primary care doctor first. If you do not have a primary care doctor, please call 404-778-7777 and a representative will be happy to match you with an Emory provider.

Lung Cancer MD Chat Follow-up Questions Answered

Dr. Taofeek Owonikoko

Dr. Taofeek Owonikoko

Dr. Kristin Higgins

Dr. Kristin Higgins

Doctors Kristin Higgins and Taofeek Owonikoko held a live web chat on the topic of lung cancer this month. From that chat, there were several unanswered questions that we wanted to circle back with the answers for. You’ll find them below in a Q&A format. If you’re interested in checking out the rest of the conversation from the chat, check out the lung cancer chat transcript.

Rhonda asked: Is there any lung cancer treatment program for people without health insurance?

Dr. Owonikoko: Depending on where this person resides, the state may have a program for indigent cancer patients. Also, the American Cancer Society has some patient support programs for indigent patients to support cancer care. Here is the webpage to the support options on the ACS website.

Marjorie asked: My sister has been treated this year for non-small cell lung cancer in the RUL, that was inoperable. she underwent 6 months of radiation and chemotherapy, and has been told that she is now in remission. what are the odds that she will remain in remission for 5 years or more?

Dr. Owonikoko: This is not a medical advice; best to discuss with the treating oncologist. However, depending on the exact stage of the cancer, 20-30% of patients treated with chemoradiation will survive past 5 years.

Marjorie asked: Also, can you comment on outcomes from radiation induced pneumonitis?

Dr. Higgins: Radiation pneumonitis arises in about 20-25% of patients that are treated with radiation and chemotherapy.  It typically resolves with a course of steroids but sometimes requires hospitilization for more intensive monitoring and supplemental oxygen.

Hank asked: There seems to be some controversy about the use of radiation therapy for lung cancer depending on the stege. What are the pro’s and con’s?

Dr. Owonikoko: There is not much controversy about the benefit of radiation for patient with locally advanced lung cancer. The discussion is more about the best way to give the radiation and how much. Radiation is generally not needed for patients with stage I lung cancer of the non small cell subtype but may be useful for symptom palliation in patients with stage IV non small lung cancer.

Dr. Higgins can provide additional insight on the radiation questions.

Dr. Higgins: A form of local therapy is needed to cure lung cancer that has not yet spread to distant sites, whether it be radiation or surgery.  Surgery is the best option for early stage lung cancer.  New techniques of radiation, particularly SBRT, have been used in patients with early stage lung cancer that are not medically fit for surgery. Outcomes have been very good with SBRT, however surgery and SBRT have not been directly compared and surgery remains the standard of care.  There are trials underway that are directly comparing SBRT vs. surgery.
Again I want to stress that surgery remains the standard of care for early stage lung cancer, but pros to SBRT include minimal recovery time and a less invasive procedure.

Do you have other questions for us related to lung cancer? Leave them in the comments below & we’ll be sure to post responses here.

7+ Reasons to Quit Smoking on November 17th

Great American Smokeout American Cancer Society

Image source: American Cancer Society

More than 46 million Americans smoke cigarettes, despite the fact that tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death in the U.S. To help lower this number and the heightened risk for disease caused by cigarette smoking, the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is Thursday, November 17. The event is held each year to encourage smokers to set a quit date with a community of peers and support.

Along with the Great American Smokeout event, November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, meaning there are multiple opportunities to make a change and choose to quit smoking today. If the momentum and support created through these events and efforts aren’t enough, there is plenty of data to prove the benefits of quitting smoking today:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate are reduced to almost normal.
  • Within 48 hours of quitting, damaged nerve endings begin to repair themselves, and sense of taste and smell begin to return to normal as a result.
  • Within 2-12 weeks of quitting, your heart attack risk is lowered.
  • According to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Health, within 10 years of quitting smoking, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30-50% of that for the smoker who didn’t quit.
  • Smoking can reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it difficult to get the physical activity you need to stay healthy.
  • If you smoke one pack of cigarettes per day, at roughly $5 per pack, you’ll save $1825 over the next year alone by quitting today.
  • Quitting smoking today will lower your risk for heart disease, aneurysms, blood clots, stroke and peripheral artery disease (PAD). More details.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking cigarettes kills more Americans every year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined. It is also responsible for 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths, a disease that is extremely hard to treat, but that could be prevented.

For more information on the Great American Smokeout, check out the American Cancer Society’s website on the event.

If you’re interested in discussing lung cancer, including diagnosis and treatment options, in more detail with us, we’re holding a lung cancer web chat this week on the same day as the Great American Smokeout, November 17th. This one-hour web chat is a free event for our community to get your lung cancer questions answered. If you want to participate, fill out this short form to receive your link to join Thursday’s chat.

2 Ways to Lower Your Lung Cancer Risk Today

Lung Cancer Awareness Month
More people in the U.S. die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Lung cancer is responsible for approximately 30% of cancer deaths in the United States. In fact, it’s actually the cause of more deaths than breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer combined. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and we’d like to share with you some important information and tips for how you can lower your lung cancer risk.

Quit Smoking

Obviously, if you smoke, the most important step you can take to lower your risk for lung cancer is to quit smoking. Quitting smoking:

  • Lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate – Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate are reduced to almost normal.
  • Repairs damaged nerve endings – Within 48 hours of quitting, damaged nerve endings begin to repair themselves, and sense of taste and smell begin to return to normal as a result.
  • Lowers your risk for heart attack – Within 2-12 weeks of quitting, your heart attack risk is lowered.
  • Lowers your risk for lung cancer – According to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Health, within 10 years of quitting smoking, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30-50% of that for the smoker who didn’t quit.

Smoking accounts for ~90% of lung cancer cases. If you smoke, this is the critical first step in lowering your lung cancer risk. If you have a history of smoking and are between the ages of 55-75, you may be a candidate for a Lung CT Scan.

Eat a Wider Variety and More Fruits & Veggies

In November 2007,  the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund published Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, the most comprehensive report on diet and cancer ever completed. The study found evidence linking diets high in fruit and their ability to lower lung cancer risk to be probable. This is one of the core reasons that the AICR recommends consuming at least five portions a day of fruits and vegetables. After evaluating approximately 500,000 people in 10 countries in Europe, another study demonstrated intaking a variety of produce may also help lower lung cancer risk, so make sure to vary the color on your plate!

Chat Online with Dr. Suresh Ramalingam

Lung Cancer Web ChatIf you have specific questions about lung cancer, whether they’re related to prevention, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, support, or otherwise, Dr. Ramalingam is hosting a free 1-hour online web chat about Lung Cancer on Thursday, November 17th. Dr. Ramalingam will also be fielding questions on the topic of Lung CT scanning, a lung cancer screening mechanism that studies have shown may help lower the risk of lung cancer mortality.

You can ask as many questions as you’d like in the chat, or feel free to sign up to check out Dr. Ramalingam’s answers to other participant questions. We hope to see you there! UPDATE: Lung Cancer Chat Transcript

Lung Cancer Risk Reduction via Lung CT Scans Continue to Gain Momentum

Lung CT Screening

Did you know that only 15% of lung cancer patients survive more than 5 years after their cancer has been identified? As Vicki Griffin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution puts it in a recent AJC article on lung cancer, “The bleak bottom line is that lung cancer overwhelmingly terminates lives within months of the initial diagnosis.” But as Dr. Curran of the Winship Cancer Institute reported weeks ago in a lung cancer blog post, this number could be improved. How, you ask? Through low-dose Lung CT scanning.

A recent 5 year study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is the same organization that has designated the Winship Cancer Institute as one of only 65 NCI designated cancer centers in the United States, shows that when lung adenocarcinomas are caught in earlier, more treatable stages, lung cancer death rates for those at high risk are reduced by 20%. Based on our knowledge that 157,000 people died at the hands of lung cancer in the U.S. in 2010 alone, this means last year, over 31,000 lives could have been saved.

The study evaluated over 53,000 participants at high risk for lung cancer in 25 states, including Georgia. As part of the evaluation of the effectiveness of low-dose Lung CT scans, the study compared the ability for Lung CT screenings and the currently standard chest X-ray technology to identify lung cancer early on.

Emory was a participant in the NCI sponsored study, and we conducted trials across the state of Georgia. As a result of the study’s significant findings, our teams at the Emory Clinic and Emory University Hospital Midtown are now offering current and former smokers with a significant smoking history high risk for lung cancer an opportunity to get a Lung CT scan at very reasonable rates.

Lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer in the U.S., claiming more lives than the next three most common cancer killers — prostate, breast and colorectal cancers – combined. But Lung CT screening may help with the early diagnosis and ultimately, increased survival rates, for lung cancer patients.

For more information on Lung CT scanning, or to find out if you are a candidate for screening, please visit our newly launched website dedicated to educating our community on Lung CT screening and its benefits. You can also call us for more information at 404-778-7777.