Smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer and is linked to about 80-85 percent of lung cancers in the US. The CommonSpirit Health lung cancer screening program provides low-dose lung CT screenings to current and former smokers at high-risk for developing lung cancer. Screening has been shown to reduce lung cancer deaths by as much as 20 percent, according to the National Lung Screening Trial.
Screening can help detect lung cancer in its earliest stage, when it has the best chance of being treated and having the best outcome.
You may be eligible for the screening program if:
- You are a current smoker or quit less than 15 years ago
- You are 55-80 years of age
- You have a 30-pack year or more history of smoking (multiply the number of packs per day times years smoked - for example, 1 pack per day x 30 years, 2 packs per day x 15 year, etc.)
Health insurance companies typically cover lung cancer screening for those who meet the specified guidelines outlined above. Check with your health insurance provider to be sure a lung cancer screening is covered under your plan. In the event of significant findings, our hospital radiology staff will work with your primary care physician to direct follow-up care and referrals.
Talk to your Primary Care Physician to see if you should get screened. The CommonSpirit Health lung cancer screening programs below will work with you and your physician to schedule your lung cancer screening:
- What is the CT scan like?
During your low dose CT scan of the lungs, you lie on your back on a long table. You may be given a pillow to make you more comfortable. The technologist running your scan will move to a separate room where he or she can still see and talk with you. You'll be asked to lie very still as the table slides through the center of a large machine that creates images of your lungs. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly in order to create a clear picture of your lungs. Expect your appointment to last about a half-hour, though the actual scan takes less than a minute.
- What is the difference between a low-dose CT scan and a traditional x-ray?
Low dose CT imaging of the lungs gives detailed images of slices of the lung, and is far more sensitive in detecting abnormalities than a conventional chest x-ray. The scan is painless, takes just a few minutes, and is associated with minimal radiation risk.
- What happens if the scan detects something?
All scans will be interpreted by a specially-trained radiologist. If suspicious abnormalities are found, a patient may be asked to get more frequent imaging, different imaging, or even a biopsy to determine if the lesion is cancerous. Abnormal scans are reviewed by a multidisciplinary panel of physicians in order to achieve the best plan of additional testing.
The CommonSpirit Mountain Region Cancer Network is committed to keeping our communities healthy through prevention, early detection, and treatment.