At Clark Memorial, we know early detection is one of the best defenses against cancer. Lung cancer screening is a painless, non-invasive procedure we offer to detect lung cancer in people who don't have symptoms. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. By the time symptoms appear, cancer has likely spread and is more difficult to treat. When lung cancer is found early, treatments can lead to remission and recovery.
A low-dose CT scan (LDCT) is the recommended screening procedure for people at risk for lung cancer. Medicare and some insurance plans cover lung cancer screening for people who:
Because prevention and screening are so important to lung health, Clark Memorial offers a $110 CT lung screening program for at-risk individuals whose insurance does not cover the cost. This special cash price saves patients who meet eligibility requirements approximately $300 in out-of-pocket expenses.
Because CT scans can detect even tiny nodules in the lung, they are effective in diagnosing lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. In fact, about 80 percent of lung cancers are found at an early stage when there is a good chance of long term remission. Without screening, more than 70 percent of lung cancers are found at a late stage with little chance of recovery.
The CT uses special X-ray technology to get images from different angles. Sophisticated computers process the information to produce multiple cross-sectional images of the inside of the body. Because an LDCT uses such a low dose of radiation, there is minimal risk of effects from radiation exposure.
Many people who have smoked have small nodules in their lungs. Usually, they're not lung cancer. If they appear abnormal, they may require additional testing, such as another CT or a biopsy to determine if cancer is present. An LDCT is a painless and non-invasive procedure that can find lung cancer when it's in early stages and very curable.
Lying flat on an exam table, you'll move slowly through the machine with your arms over your head. You'll hold your breath for about 5 to 10 seconds while the scan is being performed. That allows for a clearer image of your lungs. The entire exam should take around ten minutes.
The radiologist will look at the results, put together a report discussing anything unusual that showed up in the images, and make recommendations for any follow-up care. The radiologist sends the report to the physician who referred you for the screening.
If there's a nodule of concern, the radiologist will likely recommend a follow-up CT scan several months later to see if the nodule has changed. If you have an infection or inflammation in your lungs when you have the LDCT, you'll likely have a follow-up scan in about a month to make sure the issue went away and is not something else.
If there is a nodule that appears to be cancer, you may be referred to a pulmonologist (lung specialist) and have more testing, such as a PET scan.