CT Lung Screening FAQ
What is a CT Lung Screening?
The CT Lung Screening is an exam that attempts to detect lung cancer in its earliest stage and when it is most treatable. It consists of a low dose, non-contrasted helical CT that uses X-rays to scan the entire chest in about five to ten seconds during a single breath hold.
Who should get a CT Lung Screening?
This exam is for patients that are at high risk for lung cancer. Typically, that includes former or current smokers ages 55-74 who have smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or more.
How often is this screening recommended?
The current recommendation is that, once you begin these screenings, you should continue to have follow-up screenings on an annual basis. Future guidelines may adjust the frequency and duration of recommended screening.
Is there a risk of a false positive result?
The vast majority of nodules, more than 90%, will turn out not to be cancer (false positive). Patients need to understand this as part of a screening exam. The benefit is in that other 10% of cases where there is early detection of a cancerous lung nodule, permitting early treatment and a greater chance of a cure.
What is the risk of radiation exposure from this exam?
We believe that, in a patient with an advanced smoking history, the risk of radiation is low compared to the benefit of early lung cancer detection. Visit our Health Encyclopedia to learn more.
What are the criteria to be a candidate for this exam?
This exam is tailored to evaluate patients with a long-term smoking history. Most patients will be over the age of 50 and have smoked for at least 20-30 years. For more information, you may wish to reference the NCCN Guidelines online.
Has this test been proven to reduce mortality rates?
We believe that, in a patient with an advanced smoking history, the risk of radiation is low as compared to the benefit of early lung cancer detection. Visit our Health Encyclopedia to learn more.
Who interprets these screening exams?
One of our 25 board-certified radiologists. Many hold additional fellowships in subspecialty areas of radiology. Referring physicians will receive lung screening results in 24 hours or less.
What if the lung screening results in incidental findings, such as adrenal, renal, or liver abnormalities?
This depends on the findings and the radiologist’s interpretation. Further exams and evaluation could be recommended. If preauthorization requirements are met (if needed), any follow-up procedures based on these diagnostic findings would be covered by most insurance plans.
In what way does this exam differ from a regular chest CT without contrast?
The technique of the study is adjusted to reduce the radiation dose. An IV is not required, and no contrast is administered.
Why screen for lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in America claiming more lives than colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer combined. Without early detection screening, over 95% of lung cancer patients eventually die from their lung cancer, usually within a few years of when they are diagnosed. Annual screening with CT scans can find lung cancers in their earliest stage, when up to 90% can be cured.
Suspicious nodules that may indicate lung cancer can be seen in a CT scan of the lung (above),
but not in an X-ray (below).
Is a CT Lung Screening covered by insurance?
Unless an illness is already suspected, few insurers will pay for the screening. Patients wishing to get the CT Lung Screening should expect to pay $300 out of pocket at the time of service. If cancer is detected, the follow-up treatment should then be covered by their insurance.
For more information regarding the CT screening for lung cancer, you can call toll free: 1-877-243-0563.