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Lung Cancer Screenings

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Camille Dellapesca started smoking in her teens and goes through up to a pack a day. She's here for a CT scan, to check for signs of lung cancer. "In a way I felt good today knowing I'm going to get this done."

At 62 years old, Dellapesca falls within the new screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

After years of study, the group is now recommending annual CT scans for high risk smokers - patients between the ages of 55 and 74 who smoke or have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years.

"Studies have shown that by properly screening people at high risk for lung cancer deaths can decline 20%," says Len Lichtenfeld.

There are risks associated with CT scans, which is why doctors are not recommending the tests for ALL smokers.

The scans are a type of X-ray and involve some radiation. Plus they can turn up false positives, which may lead to unnecessary tests or biopsies - and sometimes dangerous complications.

"It's the evaluation of those non cancerous nodules that's the real risk. 40 percent of patients who get these lung cancer screenings we find something to evaluate further," says Dr. Michael Pollack.

Dellapesca's scan brought good news. "It shows there's no evidence of lung cancer."

While the American Cancer Society says these screenings will save lives, there's a long way to go. Lung cancer kills about 160,000 Americans each year.

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