Senior living: Seniors are eligible for life-saving lung screenings

Kathryn 'Kitty' Campuzano, RN, BSN, OCN, nurse navigator, Lung Program, MemorialCare ToddCancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of MemorialCare)

By Kathryn Campuzano,

Contributing writer

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, accounting for more than 161,000 people dying each year. And like most cancers, the likelihood of developing it increases with age.

If you have a history of smoking, it is important you receive yearly screenings to find early signs of lung nodules that could turn into cancer.

Why lung screenings matter

Most lung cancer diagnoses come among those 55 to 84 years old, with the median age of diagnosis being 71. Many older patients do not receive the treatment they need soon enough, which allows the cancer to grow more aggressively, making it harder to treat.

Medicare recently changed the age eligibility for lung cancer screenings from 55 to 50 to help people find cancer even earlier. This now allows people in their early 50s, who are former smokers, a chance to get screened sooner to catch any potential cancer.

To be eligible for a lung cancer screening, you must meet the following criteria:

Be 50-77 years old for Medicare or 50-80 years old for most private insurances.
Don’t have signs or symptoms of lung cancer (asymptomatic).
Either a current smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years.
Have a tobacco smoking history of at least 20 “pack years,” meaning an average of one pack per day for 20 years.
Gotten an order from your doctor.

Kathryn ‘Kitty’ Campuzano, RN, BSN, OCN, nurse navigator, Lung Program, MemorialCare ToddCancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of MemorialCare)
What doctors look for during lung screenings

During the screening, the CT scan will look for a mass of tissue in the lung that is smaller than 3 cm (slightly more than an inch) in diameter called a lung nodule. Lung nodules are one of the most common abnormalities found during a CT scan and while most lung nodules are benign (non-cancerous), …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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