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CT Lung Cancer Screening

Computed Tomography (CT) Lung Cancer Screening is a helical CT scan which evaluates your lungs for any signs of lung cancer. This screening tool is intended for individuals considered to be at high risk for developing lung cancer. The advanced CT scan provides a rapid examination of your lungs and is designed to detect small nodules that may be present but not yet visible on a standard chest X-ray. Recent research suggests that detection of these nodules at a very small size may dramatically improve likelihood of survival of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Facts and Early Detection

Lung cancer accounts for one of every three cancer deaths — leading the way for cancer deaths in all ethnic groups. It is the second-most diagnosed cancer in men and women.

Did You Know? About 80-85 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking, however, 60 percent of lung cancer patients have never smoked or are former smokers who quit decades ago, according to the Lung Cancer Alliance.

While there are many environmental factors — like exposure to radon gas and asbestos — that can increase your risk of lung cancer, smoking and exposure to second hand smoke pose the greatest risks. In fact the Centers for Disease Control suggest that people exposed to second hand smoke have a 20-30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer later in life.

As startling as the facts may be, only 16 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at their earliest, most curable stages. However, if caught early — patients can increase their treatment options — outcome and survival rate.

Who needs a CT Lung Cancer Screening?

CT Lung Cancer Screening is suggested for former or current smokers ages 55-77 with a 30 pack-year smoking history. Former smokers must have quit within the past 15 years.

If you would like to find out if you are a candidate for CT Lung Cancer Screening, you can use the Lung Cancer Risk Calculator.

Pack-Year History

Pack-year history is calculated by multiplying the number of years smoking by the number of packs per day. Using this formula, a person who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years has smoked for 30 pack-years. Likewise, someone who smoked two packs per day for 15 years also smoked for 30 pack-years.

What should I expect?

If your scan is normal:

  • you may wish to obtain a repeat study in one year.

If the radiologist detects a pulmonary nodule that raises concern:

  • you may be asked to return for a diagnostic CT test.

Frequently, nodules detected on the screening exam are subsequently revealed to be benign granulomas or scars on the diagnostic study. Therefore, an initially positive screening test does not mean you have lung cancer. Additional charges for the diagnostic scan, and for any additional tests that may be needed will usually be covered by insurance. In some cases, a small nodule may be detected which is not considered suspicious, and you may be asked to return for periodic rechecking of the nodule to be sure it is benign (not cancerous).

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