Lung cancer causes tens-of-thousands of deaths each year in the U.S., but through early detection through increased screening, doctors are working to improve outcome for patients. Lung cancer is diagnosed in around 235,000 Americans each year while killing approximately 135,000 people, making it the country&rsquo;s leading cause of cancer deaths in both women and men. &ldquo;If you were to tally up the number of deaths from breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers, lung cancer surprise surpasses all four of them combined,&rdquo; says Desmond D'Souza, MD, a thoracic surgeon at the OSUCCC &ndash; James. While lung cancer can be difficult to treat for a variety of reasons, increasing early detection through robust screening could go a long way toward reducing deaths in the U.S. and beyond The silent killer &ldquo;Lung cancer is often referred to as the silent killer because many patients don&rsquo;t experience early symptoms,&rdquo; D&rsquo;Souza says. &ldquo;The presence of a persistent cough, coughing up blood, unexplained weight loss and/or shortness of breath should all be red flags &mdash; if you have any of those symptoms, you should have a conversation about lung cancer screening with your primary care physician or pulmonologist.&rdquo; How do doctors screen for lung cancer? &ldquo;A patient meets with a physician, and they&rsquo;re deemed a high-risk candidate &mdash; someone from age 55 to 77 with a history of smoking a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, and is a current smoker or one who quit within the last 15 years &mdash; the doctor could order a non-invasive CT scan,&rdquo; D&rsquo;souza says. &ldquo;The scan literally takes less than 60 seconds. There&rsquo;s no pain, and no IVs, so there's no contrast.&rdquo; CT scans vs. X-rays &ldquo;Studies show that low-dose lung cancer screening is a very effective strategy that can reduce patients&rsquo; risk of death by about 20 percent when compared to screening X-rays,&rdquo; D&rsquo;Souza says. &ldquo;So if you're going in every year, X-rays often don't pick up the subtle findings that you would see on a CT scan to be able to detect these cancers early.&rdquo; Why early detection is critical &ldquo;We know that, if we can detect lung cancer early, we can often offer surgery or effective other effective treatments,&rdquo; D&rsquo;Souza says. &ldquo;If patients are diagnosed with stage-one lung cancers, they have very good prognoses. A lot of times, surgeons like myself can go in with minimally-invasive robotic techniques and remove the cancers.&rdquo; Surgical success &ldquo;We know for a fact that surgery is an effective tool in treating cancers and is often curative. If the tumor is resected or removed in its entirety and there's no spread elsewhere outside the lung, then these patients often don't require chemotherapy or radiation, and can transition to a surveillance plan thereafter,&rdquo; D&rsquo;Souza says. &ldquo;So, it makes a huge difference to detect these cancers early because we have great surgical tools for patients with early-stage lung cancer.