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Lung Cancer Screening

A CT lung cancer screening exam can detect lung cancer at its earliest, when it’s most treatable. This fast, painless, non-invasive exam can find even the tiniest of lung nodules long before they cause symptoms.

 

What You Need To Know

You are eligible if you:

  • Are 55 – 80 years old
  • Are a current smoker
  • Are a former smoker who has quit in the past 15 years
  • Have a history of at least 30 pack-years* of smoking
    * Pack-years means: (number of packs smoked per day) x (number of years smoked). For example, a person who smoked two packs of cigarettes per day for 20 years has a history of 40 pack years of smoking. This person would be eligible for lung cancer screening.

You may also be eligible if you:

  • Have been exposed to asbestos
  • Have been exposed to other occupational hazards like silica, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, diesel fumes, nickel, coal smoke or soot

You are not eligible for lung cancer screening if you:

  • Have signs and symptoms of lung cancer
  • Have been treated for lung cancer
  • Are unable or unwilling to undergo treatment if lung cancer is found
  • In three of every 10 people, screening will find a minor abnormality, but most of these are nothing to worry about.
  • Some people will need further testing or procedures to confirm this. These tests may require more time and expense.
  • Occasionally, a biopsy is needed.
  • Our clinical teams are committed to capturing high-quality diagnostic images using the appropriate amount of radiation for you. While you are exposed to radiation during a CT exam, the benefits typically outweigh the long-term risks.
  • Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

What To Expect

  • We’ll give you a call before your appointment to talk through preparation instructions and your past imaging exams.
  • Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
  • On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early for check-in. If instructed to do so, please bring prior imaging results with you.
  • When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
  • The technologist will help position you onto the scanner table.
  • Once you are comfortably positioned, the technologist will go out of the room to run the scanner from a computer located directly next to the scanner suite, visible through the viewing window. The technologist will communicate with you throughout the exam and check to see how you are doing.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for several seconds as pictures are taken.
  • When your scan is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
  • Once you have changed, your appointment is complete. You do not need to check out with the front desk when you leave.
  • After the exam, your images will be sent electronically to a radiologist who will review the information and send a report to your referring provider, typically within one to two business days.
  • You should follow up with your referring provider to discuss your results.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lung Cancer Screenings

  • What are the first signs of lung cancer?

    Signs of lung cancer in its early stages vary from person to person. The most common are a worsening cough that will not go away and chest discomfort. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, spitting up small amounts of blood, unexplained weight loss, back pain, loss of appetite, and a general fatigue.

  • What exam is used for lung cancer screening?

    The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (CT).

  • What is a CT lung cancer screening used for?

    A CT lung cancer screening exam can detect lung cancer at its earliest, when the disease is most treatable. CT lung cancer screening is a fast, painless, non-invasive exam that can find the tiniest of lung nodules long before they cause symptoms.

  • Who can have the screening? Is lung cancer screening right for me?

    You may be eligible if you meet all of the following criteria:

    • Are 55-80-years-old, and
    • Are a current smoker, and
    • Are a former smoker who has quit in the past 15 years
    • Have a history of at least 30 pack years of smoking

    You may also qualify if you are a non-smoker who has had occupational exposure to environmental hazards. If you do not meet these criteria but have these signs or symptoms of lung cancer, then a diagnostic chest CT could be performed instead.

  • Are there people who are not eligible for a lung cancer screening?

    You are not eligible for lung cancer screening if you have signs and symptoms of lung cancer, have been treated for lung cancer, or are unable or unwilling to be treated if lung cancer is found.

  • What happens during a CT lung cancer screening?

    During your lung cancer screening, you will be placed on the scanner table. The technologist will then leave the room to run the scanner from a computer located behind the viewing window. The technologist will communicate with you throughout the exam. The CT table you are on will move into the scanner and the technologist will take the images.

  • How long does a lung cancer screening take?

    The entire exam takes about 45 minutes, although actual time in the scanner is about 5 minutes.

  • Is CT lung cancer screening safe?

    The amount of radiation you are exposed to during a LDCT is much less than that of a standard CT scan. It’s equal to about half the radiation you’re exposed to naturally from the environment in a year.

  • How effective is lung cancer screening?

    Can lung cancer screening prolong your life?
    Studies show that finding lung cancer early can improve chances of survival by up to 20 percent.

  • Do you get CT scan results immediately?

    Your scan results won’t usually be available immediately. After analyzing the images, the radiologist will write a report and send it to the doctor who referred you for the scan so they can discuss the results with you. This normally takes a few days.

  • Is the screening cost covered by insurance?

    Most insurers and Medicare will cover the cost of lung cancer screening as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. If you are interested in the screening, but are not sure if you are eligible, your health care provider can help by evaluating you.

  • Do you need a referral for a lung cancer screening?

    Your doctor or other qualified provider must evaluate you and provide a referral for a lung cancer screening.