Lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States.
Lung cancer screening is a preventive tool to look for signs of lung cancer in high-risk patients. Lung cancer screenings can find concerns before you have symptoms and increase the likelihood of catching lung cancer in its earlier and more treatable stages.
Who is eligible for lung cancer screening?
You are eligible for lung cancer screening using a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan, or low-dose CT scan, if you meet the following criteria:
- Ages 50-80
- Minimum 20 pack-years smoking history (To calculate pack-years, multiply the number of cigarette packs you smoked per day by the number of years you have smoked. For example: If you smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years, you would have a smoking history of 20 pack-years.)
- Current smoker or former smoker who quit less than 15 years ago
- No symptoms of lung cancer
- Participated in a shared decision-making visit with your healthcare provider
- Prior counseling on quitting smoking, if applicable
My primary care doctor, Rachelle Gorrell, DO, recommended that I do the lung cancer screening. I am a smoker, and I have been smoking for about 47 years. I lost my mother and my father to cancer, so I think it's important that I get the CT scan to get myself checked out since I'm almost 60.
- Sherry Gunnels
What is the cost of lung cancer screening?
Medicare and many private insurance companies currently cover the costs of lung cancer screening for eligible patients. Patients should check with their insurance companies if they have questions about their coverage. Patients also can talk to their healthcare provider about the costs of self-pay for lung cancer screening.
What are the benefits of lung cancer screening?
- Yearly LDCT scans are the only screening test shown to lower the chance of death from lung cancer, according to several studies.
- Scans from LDCT may reveal abnormalities that could be lung cancer or other health issues.
- Screening also may provide smokers with motivation to quit.
What is a low-dose CT scan?
The low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan, or low-dose CT scan, takes pictures of your lungs, and a radiologist scans the images for abnormalities or nodules – spots on your lungs. The scan takes about a minute and no needles or contrast dyes are used. LDCT scans use less amounts of radiation compared to other CT imaging.
How will I get my results?
You will be contacted via MyChart, phone call or mail – usually within four business days of your scan being read. If the results are negative, you will return in a year for another scan as long as you are still eligible. If the results are positive, you and your provider will discuss the best next steps.
For More Information
Talk to your doctor to see if an annual lung cancer screening is recommended for you.