Ask the Expert: Who should think about getting screened for lung cancer?

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Dr. Mike Hanley


Q. Who should consider getting screened for lung cancer?

A. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and is responsible for more deaths than colorectal, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Along with tobacco smoking, other risk factors include exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure such as asbestos. However, smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, with 80 percent of lung cancer deaths occurring among smokers. Lung cancer screening programs are targeted to identify cancer among current or former smokers.

Unfortunately, 79 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed in later stages, where surgery that can provide a cure is not an option. The goal of screening is to diagnose lung cancer early, where there is a higher chance of a successful surgery to cure patients. Studies have shown that lung cancer screening with CT saves lives by detecting cancers at an earlier stage.

Comprehensive lung cancer screening is available at University of Virginia Cancer Center for patients who meet the following criteria:

» Ages 55-77.

» No current signs of cancer (symptoms include weight loss, unexplained cough, coughing up blood).

» Smoke one pack per day for 30 years or equivalent (for example, smoked two packs a day for 15 years).

» Current smoker, or quit within the past 15 years.

For more information, please call 1 (855) 200-LUNG or visit

Dr. Mike Hanley is the lung cancer screening director at University of Virginia Cancer Center.