Lung Cancer Screening

CAT Scan

As a smoker, you should be aware that you are at an increased risk for lung cancer – but you may not be aware that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the U.S. Lung cancer has historically been undetectable until it reached a late or even incurable state. However, in recent studies, lung cancer screening with low dose CT scanning has now been proven to reduce mortality in high risk groups.

Who should have a lung cancer screening using low dose CT?

A person who meets the following criteria is at risk for developing lung cancer and may benefit from this screening:

Ages 50-77

Smoking history of 20 pack years or greater (ie, smoked 1 pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years, or 2 packs a day for 15 years)

Current smokers, or those who have ceased smoking for less than 15 years

Other patients with risk factors such as these should discuss screening with their doctors:

Age greater than 50 years

Smoking history of 20 pack years or greater and 1 additional risk factor (except second-hand smoke). Additional risk factors include: documented high radon exposure, occupational exposure (e.g. arsenic, asbestos, beryllium, chromium, cadmium, nickel, silica, diesel fumes, coal smoke, and soot), personal cancer history, personal history of COPD or pulmonary fibrosis, family history of lung cancer.

Early detection is the key to fighting lung cancer. This screening is recommended by many physician groups, American Lung Association, and the U.S. government (U.S. Preventative Services Task Force).

What is lung cancer screening using low dose CT?

A screening exam is a study performed to detect to a disease early, at its most treatable state, before signs or symptoms suggest it is there. For lung cancer screening, a highly-advanced CT Scanner using low dose x-rays is used to take images of your chest. These images are more advanced and detailed than the images available through a standard chest x-ray.

What should I expect during my exam?

You will be asked to lay on your back while images of your chest are taken by the CT scanner. You will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during some parts of the exam. The entire exam will only take a few minutes. There is no need for intravenous injections with this exam.

What might a lung cancer screening with low dose CT show?

Images of your chest will allow our physician to better visualize your lungs. In most cases, the results will be normal. However, there are times when areas of abnormality are identified. In most cases these are benign (not cancerous).

Most abnormalities do not require any further testing. Some may prompt your doctor to refer you to a specialist, such as a pulmonologist or a surgeon.

Who interprets the results of my exam?

Your exam will be carefully reviewed by a specialty-trained radiologist, a physician with board certification, who has extensive training to interpret medical images for lung diseases.

When will I get the results from my exam?

Northeast Radiology is proud to offer Results Now™. Preliminary results of your exam may be available to you at the time of your exam, upon request. A full report of your exam will be sent to the doctor who referred you to our office. A copy of your report will also be made available to you on our patient portal, should you wish to see it, a few days after your visit.

Do I need to repeat this study?

If the results of your exam are negative, that is great news! However, based on currently available data, we suggest yearly follow up examinations until age 77, because there is no guarantee that abnormalities will not develop in the future.

What are the risks of CT Scans?

There are theoretical risks to CT Scans because there is some radiation used, and radiation exposure is cumulative. However, due to advancements in technology and technique, your exposure to radiation has been minimized. Our CT scanners are accredited by the American College of Radiology. This accreditation requires special emphasis on patient safety and staff training, and regular review.

Do you accept my insurance?

Northeast Radiology accepts most insurance plans. Medicare now covers this procedure, and some other insurance companies are now covering this exam as well. There will be no charge for patients with insurance that does not include CT Lung Screening as a covered procedure.

For additional information about this test, please visit the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guide to lung cancer screening at