Lung Cancer Screening

Are you at risk for lung cancer? Screening is an early detection tool to look for cancer, often before symptoms occur. If cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. Lung cancer is sometimes not found until it has advanced to a stage where treatment or cure is less favorable. While there’s no easy answer to lung cancer prevention, more lives can be saved with early detection. Recent Clinical Trials have indicated outcomes are improved after lung cancer scans.

Lung cancer screening guidelines

You should get a lung cancer screening test if you:

  • Are a current smoker (or former smoker who quit in the past 15 years)
  • Have a 30 pack-year smoking history (For example, one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years).

In less than a minute, the non-invasive test checks for lung cancer in patients ages 55 to 77 years based on certain criteria. This screening is available for individuals who meet all of these conditions:

  • Don’t have signs or symptoms of lung cancer
  • Are a current smoker or have quit smoking in the last 15 years
  • Have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years)
  • Have a written order from their physician or qualified non-physician practitioner.

How how often should you have lung cancer screening done?

Age 55 to 77

  • Get a low-dose computerized tomography (CT or CAT scan) every year

Check with your insurance provider before scheduling an exam. Not all insurance providers cover the cost of this exam.

What is a Low-dose computerized tomography (CT or CAT scan)?

A low-dose lung CT scan produces more detailed images than a regular chest x-ray and may find early signs of cancer. To have a low-dose lung CT, you will be asked to lie on a narrow table and hold your breath as the table passes into an open ring, which moves around you during the test. It is painless and takes about 15 minutes.

What is the importance of lung cancer screening tests?

  • Results from a National Lung Screening trial indicated 20% fewer deaths among current and former smokers who were screened with a low dose spiral CT over a chest x-ray.
  • It is estimated over 80 percent of lung cancers could be cured if detected at an early stage.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States, more than breast, colon and prostate combined.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, 2019 statistics, lung cancer is expected to claim more than 142,000 lives.

If you believe you are at risk for Lung Cancer and would like to schedule a low dose CT lung cancer screening test:

  • Discuss this test with your physician. (Please note: A physician order will be required.)
  • Results will be given to your physician and will be reviewed by Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Lung Cancer Screening Program to assist you with interpretation of results.