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Lung Cancer Screening

200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, and nearly 90% of them will die from the disease as it is usually discovered at an advanced stage. Screening is an important tool in fighting lung cancer, because when it is found early, it is much more likely to be treatable.

The Cancer Institute's lung screening program is recognized by the Lung Cancer Alliance as a Center of Excellence. Based on this designation, we are committed to providing a high quality screening program that includes compliance with national standards on the most up-to-date best practices for managing screening quality, radiation dose and diagnostic procedures.

What is a low dose CT screening exam for lung cancer?

Low dose computerized tomography (LDCT) is a quick, painless exam done without any X-ray dye (or contrast). The CT scanner scans the chest using low doses of radiation to make a series of detailed pictures of the lungs.

Who should have a lung screening exam and when?

The goal of lung screening exams is to determine if nodules or masses are present in those patients who may not have symptoms but may be at risk for the disease. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer increases with the amount and the length of time a person smokes.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people be screened if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Age 55-77 years;
  • Asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms of lung cancer);
  • Tobacco smoking history of at least 30 pack years*
  • Current smoker or one who has quit smoking within the last 15 years

*A pack year is smoking an average of 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year (example: 30 year pack history by smoking 1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years).

How often should I be screened?
Annually.

Potential benefits and risks of lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans:

The goal of lung cancer screening is to find cancer at an early stage. Identifying cancer early increases the chance that it can be successfully treated and possibly cured. Low-dose CT scans detect early stage cancer more accurately than other screening methods, such as chest X-rays.

Lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans also has potential risks. The CT test can show “false-positive” results, suggesting that a person has lung cancer when he or she does not. This can lead to additional testing, anxiety for the patient, and increased cost. People also receive radiation during low-dose CT scans. Although the dose of radiation received during the scan is relatively small, radiation from repeated scans can cause cancer in otherwise healthy people. Lung screening may also detect abnormal findings in other areas of the body such as the thyroid, liver, kidneys and adrenal glands. This can lead to additional testing and costs as well.

How do I schedule this exam?

  1. Schedule an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
  2. During your appointment, you will receive counseling on lung cancer screening and the benefits and harms of screening.
  3. You will receive an order for the low-dose CT lung caner screening exam during this appointment. 
    • Medicare and many private insurance companies cover this exam. Please check with your insurance company. 

Call 678-312-3444 to schedule an appointment.

For more information or questions, contact Nancy McCormick, RN, BSN, Thoracic Nurse Navigator at 678-312-3189.