Lung Cancer Screening

Historically, a lung cancer diagnosis was essentially a death sentence. Now, with low-dose CT scans, we can screen for early lung cancer in people who are at high risk. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and worldwide. About 85 percent of lung cancer deaths occur in people who smoke, or who used to smoke. When detected early, however, lung cancer patients often have a good prognosis.

We conduct lung cancer screening to find cancers in high-risk individuals who do not have any symptoms. Screening does not prevent lung cancer or lower your risk of developing lung cancer. The only way to do that is to quit smoking!

What happens during lung cancer screening?

We conduct annual lung cancer screenings using a low-dose CT scan. Low-dose CT scans detect very small lung abnormalities using up to 90 percent less ionizing radiation than a conventional chest x-ray, and they are more effective. They are also painless and non-invasive.

More than 95 percent of abnormalities on a lung scan are NOT cancer, but usually scarring from an old infection or some other benign cause.

Who should undergo annual lung cancer screening?

If you meet the following criteria, you are eligible for annual screening:

  • You are between 55 and 77 AND,
  • You have a 30-pack-year smoking history* AND
  • You currently smoke or quit less than 15 years ago.
*A pack year is the number of cigarettes you smoked in a day multiplied by the number of years you smoked. There are 20 cigarettes in a pack.