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Surviving Lung Cancer

Surviving Lung Cancer: How Early Diagnosis and Treatment Improves Survival Odds

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both males and females with 228,150 new lung cancer cases diagnosed annually.
According to The Chest Foundation, lung cancer makes up about 14% of all new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. on an annual basis. Lung cancer is broken down into two types: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), and Small-Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).

Smoking increases your chance of developing lung cancer, so many think of lung cancer as a disease that only strikes smokers… but 15%–20% of all lung cancer cases in the U.S. are actually unrelated to smoking. In smokers and non-smokers alike, early detection plays a vital role in the successful treatment of lung cancer.


Why is Early Detection of Lung Cancer So Important?

Detecting lung cancer in its early stages is essential—by the time a person presents with the symptoms of lung cancer, the disease is often already in the advanced stages, decreasing the odds of survival. Early detection is vital for people who are at an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. The earlier lung cancer is detected, the faster your physician can come up with a proper treatment plan, increasing your odds of surviving lung cancer.


Lung cancer is often preventable because it is usually related to smoking or exposure to radon or other harmful environmental substances. One can reduce their risk of developing lung cancer simply by quitting smoking or reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals. People who are at increased risk for developing lung cancer, like heavy smokers age 55 and older, should consider having annual lung cancer screenings to increase the likelihood of detecting the disease early. A CT scan—like the one PrimeImaging offers— is a good choice for anyone who requires or desires an annual lung cancer screening test. 


Detecting lung cancer early in healthy, low-risk people is a little trickier. Many people in this category find out about their lung cancer by accident during tests for other medical conditions like pneumonia, heart disease, and other lung conditions. In cases like these, the early detection of lung cancer often leads to successful treatment. 


It’s important to be aware of some of the early warning signs of lung cancer—regardless of how at-risk you are for lung cancer—so you can let your doctor know you’re having symptoms that concern you. Some of early lung cancer symptoms include:


  • A persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath (unrelated to exercise)
  • Chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing, laughing, or coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
  • Recurring respiratory ailments like bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections


There isn’t a great solution for detecting lung cancer early in low-risk patients yet, so we always recommend seeing your physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or have persistent respiratory issues.

Tests For Detecting Lung Cancer Early

The primary screening test that we recommend for early lung cancer detection is a low-dose computed tomography, also known as a CT scan or LDCT. A CT scan combines x-rays with specialized computer technology to produce images of the body. A CT scan is fast, noninvasive, and accurate. PrimeImaging in Chattanooga is a pioneer in CT technology. They offer their patients fast, accurate results often at a lower cost than other imaging facilities and hospitals. 


A chest x-ray may also be performed, though CT scans are much better at revealing small lesions in the lungs that might be missed on a more traditional x-ray. In addition to CT scans and chest x-rays, your doctor may order the following diagnostic tests:


  • Sputum cytology: this is where your doctor collects samples of your sputum (mucus/spit) and examines them under a microscope for the presence of lung cancer cells.
  • Tissue sample (biopsy): with a biopsy, your doctor will remove a small sample of cells for examination. A biopsy is typically performed through a procedure called a bronchoscopy


Whether you have been diagnosed with lung cancer or are having worrisome respiratory symptoms , The Lung Docs are here to help. Dr. Mike Czarnecki, “Dr. Mike,” is trained in all areas of pulmonary health—including the early diagnosis and treatment of both non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. He will work with you to develop a personalized lung cancer treatment plan. Please give us a call at 423-710-3864 or request an appointment online today.