Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the US, accounting for nearly 36% of all lethal cancers. Approximately 178,000 new cases are diagnosed each year with approximately 169,400 deaths.
Lung cancer is such a deadly disease because it can grow for a long time before any signs of it may appear. Often times it spreads before it is found, metastasizing to other parts of the body.
Lung masses have traditionally been evaluated through the use of planar chest x-rays, CT and MRI scanning. These tests can provide information regarding the size and location of the lung mass but they often cannot tell if the abnormality is benign or malignant. For this, the patient may need to undergo a biopsy. Not all patients are good candidates for biopsy due to the state of their health or the location of the mass.
Most patients are between 55 to 65 years old when they are diagnosed. Unfortunately, the overall 5 year survival rate in patients with the different types of lung cancer is less than 10%. However, That five-year survival rate can increase to 35-40% when lung cancer is found early enough for surgery to remove it before it has the opportunity to metastasize.
How Does PET Make a Difference?