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To x-ray or not to x-ray? Updated 7/20


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This is maybe a personal question but I am curious how many of you have x-rays annually because you have a family member who is a never smoker with lung cancer. My mom fits that description and I have my annual physical coming up. I am thinking about requesting x-rays yearly along with my regular physical. What are people's thoughts on this? Is it a waste of money as x-rays are not as precise at a CT scan? Or do you feel something is better than nothing? My thought is if I do it every year the docs would have a better chance of seeing a change. Any input is appreciated. Thanks!!

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At one point I was having an xray every 6 months and at the 3 month interval between xrays, I had a ct scan. My third cancer was picked up by my radiologist on an xray when it was only 1 cm. It just looked like a subtle white blob to me. Perhaps a good radiologist could keep an extra sharp eye out if he knew the purpose of the xray was to look for nodules.

Don M

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How old are you? I am 35 now. I had annual xrays after diagnosis of my mom. Not sure if I will have one this year. I am having an abdominal ct-scasn in Oct which shows the base of the lungs. I am hesitant on the ct-scan b/c I had a ct-scan 5 years ago and it showed infiltrates which were nothing and went away. Scans often show little blips.

My docs said if I really want a ct-scan, I can start at 40.

It is a hard decision to make, one I struggle with myself.

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I have had to argue with my primary in order to get an annual chest xray even though both of my parents and one grandparent died of nsclc and I have a 40 year smoking history. To me it's ludicrous that I have to fight for it. I've asked for the new spiral ct & he tells me insurance won't pay for it. I told him I'd pay for it but he still would not order it. I'd skip the xray & go for the ct if possible

wendyr

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If I could set the clock back a few years, I'd certainly opt for the x-ray, even if I had to pay for it -- or in the future, a CT scan if the prices and radiation exposure keep coming down.

Although an x-ray is not as precise as a CT scan and the smaller nodules would likely be missed, it would do a very nice job detecting a pleural effusion, which was my first indication of trouble. By the time my August 2006 x-ray was done, only the top third (essentially just the upper lobe) of my right lung was "above water" and useable. The remainder was collapsed and permanently damaged. All this with no symptoms other than what I attributed to old age. I'm convinced something would have shown up if an x-ray had been done the previous year.

When I was in the Air Force (1957 to 1978), a chest x-ray was part of a routine physical. What did they know back then that we don't know now?

Aloha,

Ned

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I started chest x-rays yearly after my dad was diagnosed. I am also a former smoker and even though it was a short time...that is two strikes against me- three if you count the fact that sheer luck (or bad luck) plays any part...

My primary is awesome- and he's about Rick's age and he knows my personal families history. Every year at my annual, I cough into the palm of my hand and say..."Stephen...I have had this "unexplained cough and it just won't go away" (which is what he writes in the referral so that my ins. will pay for the x-ray.)

I had severe bronchitis almost 2 years ago and that's when I had my first CT.

Here is my theory- there are pros and cons to just about everything we do- and alot of times there is no explaination for the things that we "get" or the things that happen to us....but if I can be proactive in my health in anyway- from preventative lifestyle choices to getting a yearly x-ray- I am going to do it!

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The only thing I wonder is ... my mom had a chest x-ray, she had chest two CT's at a very highly thought of cancer center (Hillman in Pittsburgh). They thought she had a "small amount of pneumonia" in her lung, that's it. In April 2006, I came right out and asked the pulmonologist who said this, "could it be lung cancer, she is a former smoker, cancer runs rampant in her family". He said it could be, but he really didn't think so. Told us to just follow up and make sure the pneumonia clears. Within three weeks, she was feeling considerably worse and diagnosed, complete with a pleural effusion.

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Ned,

The Army x-rays were done in days where doctors were still looking for active TB. In Poland, when you worked you needed a "work card" and to get one you had to get a chest x-ray. After the war TB was rampant and it took some time to wipe it out. But with the new resistant strends it is still a worry.

My father had yearly x-rays all his life till he stopped working at 65. Wild horses would not drag gim to a doctor after that. We often wonder what would have happened had he still had those x-rays...

In Poland, you just walk into any clinic and ask for a chest x-ray if you want to. They will give it to you for free and you do not even need to see a doctor. Couple of days later you will get the report.

The gv has figured that between a possibility of a resitant TB appearing somewhere and lung cancer it is better to screen the population.

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I've tried to do chest x-rays over the years as I am a smoker. I have random infiltrates. I'm not sure if it really will help in catching it, but it makes me feel better! :D

Tony strongly feels that ANY former smoker should get regular checks because we had no clue that 23 years after quitting, a person could get lc. We were blind-sided by his diagnosis. His last x-rays were done in the mid-late-1980's and they did show calcified nodules. No biggie they said. Once the docs found out he had quit smoking in 1983, they said he didn't need x-rays anymore. He resented the fact that nobody ever thought to x-ray his lungs. He also had annual x-rays prior to that for DOT rules and regs.

My, oh my, the info we've learned since.

Welthy

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An x-ray is better than nothing...but in mom's case, it showed nothing.

I will, when I am 50, go for a Spiral CT, but not every year...I may do every 3 or so...

Both my paternal Grandfather and Mother did smoke and had LC, and I do not..but still 2 instances and a house full of radon which I grew up in...I'll stay semi dilligent.

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My maternal grandmother (non-smoker) and my mother (former smoker) both had NCSLC. I smoked for 20 years and quit cold turkey after my mother's diagnosis. In April 2006 my brother and I took advantage of a "buy one, get one free" spiral CT offer. My scan revealed a non-specific 3mm nodule, and I've been on the CT scan watch and wait merry-go-round ever since. The peace of mind I have because I am being proactive with my health is priceless.

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So, I went for my physical today and explained the situation with my mom. I asked about starting yearly chest x-rays and she told me, "Honestly, we don't even do that with people who smoke." So basically no. I was so emotional that I couldn't even argue with her. For some reason, I just broke down and pretty much cried through my whole physical. I do daycare all day and never really cry much in front of my own kids so I think being alone it a room with another adult talking about everything my mom is going through really got to me. Felt like an idiot but I guess I needed to get it out. The doctor was very sympathetic as she also lost her father to cancer but no x-ray for me. Maybe if I can pull myself together next year I will tell her I will just pay for it. She pretty much told me that x-rays aren't effective enough and CT scans are too sensitive. I still cannot believe there isn't something to screen for lung cancer. Come on already! What is it going to take.

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Hi Wondermom: so sorry that your physical turned out to be so emotionally draining. Sometimes the emotions just come out at the damndest times. I once had a meltdown in a health food store. Wrong place for that to happen, they wanted to sell me everything in the store.

Regarding your xray vs ct, I have the same argument with my primary every year. This year I am going to insist on a spiral ct even if I have to pay for it. I had a 43 year, 2 pack a day habit and both parents & one grandparent died of nsclc. You'd think these doctors would take that into considertion before denying a person screening.

wendyr

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((Wondermom)),

Oh boy, what a hard couple of days for you. Wish there was something I could do to make it better.

I know the feeling of losing it in the doctor's office. I've had to get up in tears and leave Tony alone with the lung specialist. I think it is because she is also very sympathetic and not "all business".

I actually had two x-rays in the last year. One because I WANTED IT and the other because I had bronchitis. Some type of screening needs to be developed -- early detection is half the damn battle. I'm on the same page as Wendy. A lot of centers offer chest CT scans for reasonable amounts of money, especially in November.

Take care,

Welthy

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One thing I have done which I am embarrassed to admit I had told them once I was having chest pain and the other time that it hurt when I took deep breaths got x-rays both times and pretty much been over wanting them for now who knows how I will next month :D

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