Lung cancer remains a highly preventable disease because 85% of lung cancers occur in smokers or former smokers. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke.
Cigarette smoking is highly addictive, and quitting often proves to be difficult. However, smoking rates have recently decreased in North America and in other parts of the world.
Health care workers play an important role in identifying smokers and helping them quit.
Smokers who use a combination of supplemental nicotine, group therapy, and behavioral training show a significant drop in smoking rates.
Smokers who use a sustained-release form of the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) have a much higher quit rate than average and a higher abstinence rate after 1 year.
Screening for lung cancer consists of the following:
Currently, the American Cancer Society does not recommend routine chest x-ray screening for lung cancer. What this means is that many health insurance plans do not cover screening chest x-rays.
Periodic chest x-rays may be appropriate for current or former smokers. Discuss the pros and cons of this approach with a health care provider.
Low-dose CT scans have shown great potential in detecting early stage lung cancer and therefore surgical cure. However, the role of CT scanning in lung cancer screening is being evaluated in research studies; definite recommendations cannot be made at this time.