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Healthwatch 16: Screening for lung cancer

All cancers have screening tests but according to Geisinger, lung cancer screenings are not as common.

DANVILLE, Pa. — Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, and according to the American Cancer Society, it is the deadliest. 

"Lung cancer kills more people every year than breast plus colon plus prostate, all three of those combined, lung kills more than them," said Dr. Matthew Facktor, Geisinger Chief of Thoracic Surgery.

All of these cancers have screening tests, but according to Geisinger, lung cancer screenings are not as common.

Dr. Facktor wants to change that. 

He is encouraging people to take advantage of lung cancer screening.

"Lung cancer screening is a process, not just a single test, but the test is a CT scan," said Dr. Facktor.

He also says early detection is critical when it comes to treating lung cancer, and the screening process is easy. 

The patient's CT scan results are sent to their doctor.

"If we're a little worried it goes through our system, what do we do next? If we're not worried, it's, 'see ya next year for your next scan, just like a mammogram,'" he said.

When it comes to who can be screened, the criteria is specific; smokers or former smokers.

"Fifty to 80 years old, smoker, kind of a heavy smoker, and you have to have smoked within the last 15 years," he explained.

Dr. Facktor says these screenings are saving lives.

"We normally don't find small cell lung cancer in the early stage. It's usually spread throughout the body. This year alone, we have caught four, where-as we will usually catch one early every two to three years," he said.

If you think you are a candidate for lung cancer screening, you should talk to your doctor.

Watch more Healthwatch 16 stories on YouTube.

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