Lung Cancer CT Screening
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. It is estimated that about 150,000 people will die from lung cancer this year. That is more than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. Lung cancer occurs when cells within your lungs start growing on their own. This uncontrollable growth increases in size to eventually form a detectable tumor. Some tumors can cause death(malignant) and spread to other regions of the body(metastasize). About 85% of lung cancers are related to smoking. The best way to lower your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke or stop smoking Once any cancer occurs, the first goal is early detection. This is because patient survival improves dramatically when cancers are found at a smaller, earlier stage. This is especially true with lung cancer. Lung cancer has a very high death rate. This is partly because of the nature of the cancer itself and partly because it is often found when it is larger. If patients present to the doctor with symptoms of lung cancer, the tumor is often larger in size. If caught earlier, lung cancer can be curable.
CT LUNG SCREENING
Doctors have studied how to find these small tumors early in their growth. In 2013, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that patient’s at high risk for lung cancer undergo low radiation dose CT Lung Screening. In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began coverage for CT Lung Screening. Because CT Lung Screening has been shown to saves lives and is now recommend, most private insurance plans are required to cover this exam without co-pay or deductible.
WHO SHOULD BE SCREENED
Men and Women should undergo screening if:
- Aged 55-77 years old
- Smoked cigarettes for at least 30 pack years (pack years = number of packs smoked per day times number years smoked)
- Currently smoke or quit less than 15 years ago
- Currently without symptoms of cancer
If you meet criteria for screening, you are encouraged to talk with you primary doctor or contact a center performing these exams.
WHAT TO EXPECT
CT Lung scan is quick and easy. You are brought back to a private CT exam room, lay down flat on a table, hold your breath for less that 20 seconds, and that is it. No needle, pain, claustrophobia or recovery. The exam is actually called Low Dose Lung CT because in has 90% less radiation when compared to a standard lung CT. The risk to patients to develop cancer as a result of undergoing exam is very minimal. If nothing is found that needs closer follow up, you should have Lung Screening once a year. You should have them as long as you are smoking or up to 15 years after you quit smoking. Having the CT every year is important to maximize the benefit of this program.
If you have insurance, the screening CT is usually covered. Most private insurers are required to cover the exam without patient copay or deductible. If you do not have insurance, the self pay cost is about $250. Our office staff will assist you to determine if the exam will be covered by your insurance.
Our board certified radiologists will usually evaluate the exam the same day it is performed. The results are typically available by the next day. Most of the nodules that are found on CT are not lung cancer. Depending on the appearance and size of the nodule, the radiologist will make a recommendation as to the follow up. Some nodules may require closer follow up scans, additional testing, or a biopsy. These additional follow up tests or procedures are also usually covered by insurance.
Our imaging facilities are American College of Radiology accredited and our Radiologists are board certified with extensive experience with Lung CT exams. Want to learn more? Click below to learn from: