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Diagnostic Procedure

Lung Cancer Screening

What is a lung cancer screening?

A low-dose CT scan is the best way to identify early lung cancer, before symptoms even occur. This is when lung cancer is the most treatable and has the best chance of cure.

The procedure is given at a low dose of radiation, using 90 percent less radiation than standard CT exams. Yet it’s accurate enough to detect a wide array of abnormal changes, making it a safe and highly effective screening for people with an increased risk for developing lung cancer.

If you meet this criteria, Medicare and most insurance will cover the screening:

  • 55 years of age or older
  • Current smoker or quit smoking within the past 15 years
  • Heavy smoker, generally with a history of 30 “pack years”.
    One pack per day for 30 years or 1 ½ packs per day for 20 years = 30 “pack years”.

Additional criteria:

  • Exposure to asbestos, radon or other cancer-causing agents
  • Family history of lung caner
  • Chronic lung disease or another cancer related to smoking

When a lung cancer screening test reveals abnormalities, it can help you and your healthcare provider determine a course of monitoring, further testing and care.

How lung CT scans work

When undergoing this CT scan, patients lay on a table, holding their breath briefly. The table quickly passes through the center of an open ring. As this ring rotates, cross-sectional images of the lungs are captured. The procedure does not use contrast dye, so an IV is not required and patients do not experience discomfort or pain. Exam time is just a couple minutes.

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