Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally and the third most common form of cancer for men and women in Singapore. What is more startling is that 48 percent of non-small-cell lung cancer patients in Singapore were never smokers. Despite modern-day advances, by the time lung cancer signs and symptoms develop, the disease has usually progressed too far for curative treatments to be effective.
Despite the known benefits, lung cancer screening remains too low, with a significant proportion of individuals who meet screening criteria failing to undergo the simple procedure. This is concerning, given the potential for early detection to improve prognosis and increase the chances of survival.
Advances in the field, including the development of new therapeutic options, have made it increasingly possible for individuals diagnosed with lung cancer to achieve long-term remission or even a cure. Early lung cancer screening is, therefore, of great importance, as it allows for the detection of the disease in its early stages, when it is more likely to be treatable.
Several screening tests can be utilised to detect lung cancer in its early stages, including low-dose computed tomography, chest X-ray, and sputum cytology. A lung CT scan is the most sensitive and specific thorax screening test for lung cancer and is recommended for individuals at high risk due to their smoking history or other risk factors. The procedure is painless and requires no special preparation.
As there are no symptoms of lung cancer in its early stages, lung screening to detect any abnormalities is important for everyone.
The Neumark Lung Screening Programme provides a range of screening and diagnostic tests for the detection of various types of cancer, including lung cancer. At the core of Neumark’s comprehensive screening programme is a 10-minute low-dose computed tomography (CT) imaging exam, cardiopulmonary exercise testing, and pulmonary functional test, followed by a thorough review of your results with our thoracic surgeons, who are specialists in lung conditions. The screening tool is highly effective at identifying abnormalities in the lungs that may be indicative of cancer.
It was previously believed that all lung cancers were restricted to smokers; however, we know now that a large percentage of lung cancers present in individuals who were never smokers. The majority of the lung cancers identified today are non-small cell lung cancer, and the common subtype are adenocarcinomas, which present in both smokers and non-smokers.
Yet, despite the increasing prevalence of lung cancer, routine screenings are still uncommon for non-smoker populations.
Cancer screening tests can help identify potential disease growth and allow Neumark surgeons to remove suspicious tissue during the screening process if abnormalities are found. This can reduce the likelihood of developing recurring cancer in the future. In some cases, the screening test may require additional follow-up testing. Regular cancer screening provides the greatest protective benefit.
Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening is a relatively new medical imaging modality that has been developed to enable the early detection of lung cancer in high-risk individuals and the general population.
A low-dose CT scan is a non-invasive medical test that uses specialised technology that continuously rotates in a spiral motion to take multiple three-dimensional X-ray images producing detailed images of the inside of the lungs. Highly detailed images can reveal early-stage lung nodules that may not be detectable by traditional X-ray.
Identification of smaller tumours early through a lung cancer CT scan significantly increases the likelihood of diagnosis before the cancer has had an opportunity metastasize. This opens up treatment options and improves survival outcomes.
This scan is quick and painless. It takes only 1 minute, and there is no injection, dyes or oral pills required. The screening is performed at Gleneagles Medical Centre in Singapore, or an affiliated outpatient imaging centre, and takes about 10-15 minutes to complete the entire screening procedure.
The low-dose CT lung scans will be sent to Neumark’s thoracic surgeons, who will thoroughly review your test results with you. It is important to note that low-dose CT screening does not definitively diagnose lung cancer, but rather shows abnormalities or signs of lung cancer as an early detection tool. If your test shows any abnormalities, further testing or treatment may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Patients who seek treatment at the Neumark Lung and Chest Surgical Centre have access to the expertise of Dr Harish Mithiran, director and senior consultant thoracic surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore. Patients benefit from personalised coordination of care and groundbreaking minimally-invasive treatments to improve patient outcomes using robotic-assisted thoracic surgery or uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgical modalities.
Insurance may cover the health lung test screening cost for most patients who meet the screening criteria. Patients should check with their insurance provider to determine their coverage for this type of surgery (see insurance panel list).
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