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Low-Dose CT Scan Screening for Lung Cancer

Finding lung cancers early when they may be more treatable is the key to preventing cancer.

Those at high risk of developing lung cancer but who show no existing signs or symptoms of the disease should schedule a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning of the chest. A computed tomography scan—also known as a CT scan or CAT scan—uses computer-controlled X-rays to create three-dimensional images of the body. A low-dose CT scan is one that uses a minimal amount of radiation.

Preparation and Follow Up

No preparation is needed. All that is required is to lie down. The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes.

Since a single CT scan is not enough to diagnose lung cancer, you will need to have a CT scan each year for three years.

Benefits and Risks

The possible benefit of taking part in screening is finding a lung cancer before you have any symptoms. At that point, the tumor might still be treatable and possibly curable.

However, there are several risks of taking part in this screening. You could have anxiety caused by abnormal findings. Or the screening could result in the finding of some other disease. Taking part in the screening also exposes you to more and, possibly, unneeded radiation.

Study Findings Point to Benefits of Low-Dose CT Scan Screening

A recent national study of lung cancer from the National Institute of Health found that screening for lung cancer using low-dose chest CT scan can lower the chances of dying from lung cancer by 20%.

The goal of the study was to help find lung cancers early when they may be more treatable. The study, which called for at least three CT scans at various times, was conducted with smokers or past smokers, ages 55 to 74, who smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for at least 30 years. Approximately 200 out of 1,000 people screened during a three-year period had abnormal CT scans. After more studies, lung cancer was found in about 30 of those 300 people.

This means that about 270 out of 1,000 screened people had false positive findings. In other words, something abnormal was found that needed follow up, but was not cancer. For some of these people, this may have led to unnecessary tests or treatments that may have had certain risks.

Cost

Screening for lung cancer may or may not be covered by your health plan.

If it is covered, you will be responsible for any co-pays and deductibles under the terms of your insurance. If it is not covered, the fee is $300. This covers your first CT scan and visit with the health care provider for lung screening only.

If your first CT scan shows something suspicious, more tests and treatments may be covered by your health plan. You will receive two more yearly CT scans and visits at $200 each year (unless a cancer is found).

Scheduling Information

A screening specialists will arrange a prescreen visit to answer your questions, then, when you return, perform the low-dose CT scan and give you the results in one visit.

For more information, call 888-FOX-CHASE (888-369-2427) or Request Online