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Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021

Cigarette Damage To Lungs


We can see the damage; it’s time to address it

It is never too late to be proactive and make sure your lungs are in good shape. If you are over the age of 55, you are a prime candidate for a lung screening crucial in detecting early-stage lung cancer.

CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System offers low-dose CT lung cancer screening before any signs or symptoms show. With no sign or symptom present, there is an increased chance of detecting lung cancer at an early stage.

“If you are a smoker who is 55-75 years of age – if you have been smoking heavily your entire life -- you need to talk to your primary care physician about smoking cessation and having a low-dose CT (LDCT) screening on your lungs to make sure everything is OK for the future,” said Dr. Scott Boniol, medical director of CHRISTUS Cancer Treatment Center.

Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. Other risk factors for lung cancer include being exposed to secondhand smoke, genetics and chemical exposure. In some cases, there isn’t a known cause.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. This year alone, the American Cancer Society estimates nearly 132,000 people in the United States will die from lung cancer, while almost 236,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. In most cases, people diagnosed are generally 65-70 years of age; a very small number are diagnosed younger than 45.

Alarming statistics, yes, but the number of lung cancer deaths and new cases in the United States continues to drop. The main reason: People are quitting smoking. There have also been advances in technology and early detection for those at a higher risk of developing lung cancer, like this low-dose CT scan available in Shreveport-Bossier.

“You don’t have to have symptoms, you don’t have to look for symptoms, just consult with your physician and have the conversation on getting the lowdose CT lung cancer screening,” said Dr. Boniol.

The low-dose CT lung cancer screening is non-invasive and uses low radiation. The screening is recommended for individuals, ages 55-75, with no signs or symptoms of lung cancer and a smoking history:

• Individuals with at least a 30 pack-year smoking history (This is the number of packs of cigarettes per day multiplied by the number of years smoked).

• Individuals who have quit smoking in the last 15 years

• Current smokers The American Cancer Society continues to research the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, vaping and non-tobacco smoking. However, it is important to note the low-dose CT lung cancer screening is only recommended for those with a tobacco smoking history.

Dr. Boniol advised that individuals must consult with a physician to decide if the lung cancer screening would benefit their health. After considering all factors, the physician will choose to order the screening. Insurance and Medicare may cover the screening.

Once referred by a physician, having a low-dose CT scan takes about 30 minutes from start to finish; the actual screening takes less than a minute to complete. It requires lying on a motorized table that is slowly passed through the center of a large CT machine while detailed X-ray images are taken of the lungs. It is quick and painless.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to catch any type of irregularities sooner within your lungs so you can get started sooner on a treatment plan,” said Dr. Boniol.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to be proactive and focus on having healthy lungs. It is important to note that screening is never a good alternative to stopping smoking. By quitting, people who smoke can lower their risk of getting and dying from lung cancer.

The low-dose CT lung screening is a tool to help detect lung cancer early, as it drastically increases the detection of even the smallest tumors. When the tumors are found at an early stage, success rates for treating lung cancer are much higher.

If you think you are a candidate for this screening, have a conversation with your physician and ask for a referral that could save your life. You can’t see what cigarettes have done to your lungs. We can!


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