Should You Consider Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening?
admin 05-May-2016

Should You Consider Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening?

Low-dose CT lung cancer screening is a medical imaging scan used to detect lung cancer before symptoms have appeared. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. One factor that makes this type of cancer so deadly is that it is often diagnosed after it has spread outside the lung. In fact, up to 30 percent of cases of lung cancer are not diagnosed until it has spread beyond the lung. In other instances, early symptoms of lung cancer, such as a cough and wheezing are attributed to smoking or other lung diseases, such as COPD, which results in a delayed diagnosis.

Who is at Risk for Lung Cancer?

Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for developing lung cancer. Statistics indicate about 85 percent of people who develop lung cancer are either former or current smokers. Since smokers are considered at high-risk for developing lung cancer, screening tests have been developed to catch the disease before symptoms appear. The most successful test is CT lung cancer screening.

There are a few other screening tests for lung cancer, such as sputum cytology and chest-x-rays, which may be recommended in high-risk individuals. But research has indicated that these two screenings have not decreased deaths from lung cancer.  

Lung CT Screening Recommendations

The National Cancer Institute sponsored a study to evaluate how effective CT lung cancer screening was. The study found that there was 20 percent fewer deaths from lung cancer among those who underwent a lung cancer CT scan. 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, along with several other organizations including the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society all recommend CT lung cancer screening for people who are at a high risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung CT screening is recommended for people age 55 to 77 who are smokers or quit within the last 15 years. In addition, those who smoked a pack a day for 30 years or more are also considered at high risk and CT screening is recommended.  Other people who are generally considered high risk are those who have a family history of lung cancer or have certain lung diseases.

What is Involved in CT Lung Cancer Screening?

A low-dose CT lung screening involves several x-ray beams and detectors rotating around the body in a spiral taking images of your lungs. A computer processes the pictures and creates two-dimensional images of your lungs.

During a CT lung cancer screening, you’ll be instructed to lie on the exam table. You may be asked to raise your arms over your head. The table will move in the scanner, and you will be asked to hold your breath for about five seconds. Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, there is no special preparation for CT lung cancer screening.

Benefits and Risks of CT Lung Cancer Screening

Similar to many medical procedures, there are risks and benefits of undergoing a CT lung cancer scan. On the plus side, CT lung cancer screening is quick and non-invasive. It can detect nodules in the lung when cancer is at its earliest stage, which increases prognosis. CT lung cancer screening also uses low-dose computer tomography, which means it uses less radiation than a conventional chest CT.

Although CT lung cancer screening is considered safe, there are also a few risks to having the scan. In some instances, the screening may result in a false-negative. A false-negative means the scan appears to be normal, but cancer is present. Someone who receives a false-negative screening result may delay seeking additional tests, which delays diagnosis and treatment.

The opposite can also happen. False-positive results can occur. A false-positive means the results are abnormal, but no cancer is found. False-positive scan results can lead to additional tests that are unnecessary and invasive.

Lastly, not all health insurance companies pay for low-dose CT lung cancer screening. iradiologyCare Inc. can help you locate a radiology center where you can undergo a cost effective scan.


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NOTE: iRadiologyCare Inc. does not claim any accuracy, correctness or completeness of the above information. This information given above is for knowledge purposes only. It should not be construed as a medical advise. Please consult your doctor or medical care specialist for detailed and correct medical advise. iRadiologyCare Inc. will not be liable for any issues arising because of use of the above information.