Lung cancer can often be treatable if found at an early stage – now low-dose CT scan screening can reduce mortality for those at high risk.
Much like a yearly mammogram, getting this low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer before symptoms are evident. This is especially helpful for those who are high risk – over 55 years of age, formerly smoked, or are still smoking. The low-dose CT scan is the only test that can reduce mortality for these individuals according to a recent study.
How does the low-dose CT scan work?
The patient lies on a moveable table that slides in and out of a machine while a specialized type of X-ray takes photos of the lungs. These photos are combined into a detailed image via computer allowing doctors to view lung cancer at an early stage.
What will the scan show?
Positive: This means an abnormality was identified. From this information, the doctor may want additional tests.
Negative: No abnormal findings in the scan, however, the doctor may suggest additional scans in the future.
Indeterminate: While no abnormality was found, the doctor may recommend further imaging and follow-up at a later date.
Who can get this scan and what is the cost?
The American Lung Association (ALA) has a website page dedicated to answers on this as it differs according to the patient’s insurance, age, and smoking history. In general, the patient must be 55 or older, have a long history of heavy smoking, and no signs of lung cancer. When that criteria is met, there is no charge when using an in-network facility.
What should you do now?
Start by taking the ALA quiz that will identify issues and provide a document to take to your doctor. To prevent most lung cancers, if you are currently smoking, stop now. If you do not smoke, don’t start. If quitting is difficult for you, lung.org provides support through online programs and in-person support groups. You can also call the Lung Help Line at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).
This low-dose CT scan technology is not just a hope for the future – it is available now.