Lung Screening Can Save Your Life - Causes, Symptoms of Lung Diseases

A Lung Screening Can Save Your Life

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 25 Dec 2015 - 11:12

lung-scan

Lungs are one of the most sensitive organs in our body that is vulnerable to air-pollution. "Around 35 percent school going children in India suffer from poor lung health confirming the worst fears due to rising air pollution and deteriorating air quality," said, Manjari Chandra, the HEAL Foundation representative. This Foundation conducted a nation-wide survey in May, 2015, based on a preliminary Lung Health Screening Test (LHST).

Lung disease is the third leading cause of death. Diagnosis is often delayed until the condition has progressed significantly. Considering these facts, a lung test for those constantly exposed to the risk factors is of paramount importance. Many of us don’t even think about our breathing, until we experience challenges with it.

Causes for Lung Diseases: Pollution, smoking, infections are the prime causes of lung diseases. Bronchitis, asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, fibrosis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, pertussis, influenza and lung cancer are widely known lung medical conditions. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi, silica dust, coal dust, family history of lung cancer can be causes for lung problems.

Symptoms of Lung Condition: Chronic cough, shortness of breath, mucus production, chest pain, and coughing up blood are alarming lung conditions symptoms. Lung diseases are one of the leading causes of illness and death across the world.

What are the screening tests for lung functioning?

Chest x-ray, Complete Blood Count (CBC), CT scan, MRI of the chest, PET scan, Bone scan, are some tests to diagnose lung problems. Spirometry is also used to check pulmonary health which is relatively simple, non-invasive and inexpensive. It is often the only objective screening test, especially when there are concerns about cost and/or radiation exposure. Spirometry is primarily useful for identifying patients with significant expiratory airflow limitation or reduced lung volume.

Who should get screened for lung health condition?

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force yearly lung cancer screening with LDCT (Low dose CT Scan) for people:

  • With smoking history ( heavy smoking – which is smoking one pack a day, for a year)
  • Who quit smoking in the past 15 years or smoke now, 
  • If exposed to prolonged second-hand smoking
  • Aged between 55 and 80 years.
  • If exposed to radon gas. (Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water that eventually becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes).
  • If exposed to Asbestos
  • With family history of lung cancer

What are the Risks involved in Lung Cancer Screening?

Some Lung cancer screening risks are:

  • False-Positive Results: A lung cancer screening test can be false-positive. (although a person may not have lung cancer, their test shows positive result, that cancer is present). Such a result can lead to unnecessary follow-up tests and surgeries and may have more risks.
  • Over-diagnosis: Sometimes the screening test can find cases of cancer but surprisingly the patient may not have experienced any kind of problem. This is a case of over-diagnosis. In such a case, over-diagnosis can lead to treatment that is not needed.
  • Being exposed to radiation repeatedly from Low Dose CT Scan (LDCT) tests can cause cancer in normal healthy people.

Due to the above referred risks, lung cancer screening is normally advised only for adults who are at high risk for developing the cancer, due to their smoking history and age.

Talk to your doctor if you’re planning to get screened, if lung cancer screening is right for you.       

 

Reference: CDC; Mayo Clinic; http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/erj/7/1/35.full.pdf

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