Health Effects - Should I See My Physician?

 

Should I be tested for lung cancer?

Individuals should bring questions like this to their medical care provider(s). If someone has been exposed to high levels of radon over a long period of time, it is an especially good idea. Such persons may want to speak to their physicians about whether they should get regular health checkups or tests such as low-dose CT scans of their lungs to look for possible signs of lung cancer.

Sometimes radon exposure risk evaluation and lung cancer screening recommendations for that exposure are not common topics for family practitioners. Other radiation exposures and individual lung risk factors increase the difficulty of response to those with concerns. In addition to this, no authority has come forward with radon-exposure-based lung cancer screening recommendations as general guidance for the public.

Some of the most recent recommendations and resources for lung cancer screenings, lung cancer detection, and radon toxicity are listed in this fact sheet: Lung Cancer Screening for Radon Exposure. Generally, to reduce lung cancer risk the best step is to stop smoking, the next most effective measures include testing and fixing existing structures for radon and building radon-resistant new homes.

I just found out my house has elevated radon gas levels. Should I see my physician?

Many home owners perform their first radon test after several years of occupancy. Many of these tests will return with radon values of 4 pCi/L or more. These test results often lead to questions related to medical testing or evaluation related to the previously unknown radon exposures. Currently, there is no standard medical screening test that can be used to determine if an individual has incurred genetic damage to the lung tissue that might increase risk of lung cancer across the individual’s life span. It is recommended that you inform your family physician of the radon exposure. If the physician recommends a chest x-ray to screen for lung cancer, or if it becomes medically necessary to perform a chest x-ray for other medical reasons, then this is an appropriate medical screening. But it is not recommended that an individual request a chest x-ray unless it is deemed necessary by the physician.

Engineering Extension at Kansas State University has developed this fact sheet with review and input from numerous resources in the radon community. We welcome feedback to improve the information available to the public about radon risks. Work remains to be done in terms of screening recommendations and we hope that will happen soon so guidance can be updated.  You are welcome to make copies and use the document appropriately. We hope this will help with meeting the needs of those serving the public to reduce radon exposure risks.

Fact Sheet on Lung Cancer Screening for Radon Exposure