What is Lung Cancer Screening?
A screening is a test that can detect disease in someone who does not yet have any symptoms. The goal of a screening is to detect cancer early, before symptoms occur, making treatment options more effective and increasing the likelihood of a cure. Some common examples of screenings are mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colon cancer and pap smears for cervical cancer. For lung cancer screening, a low-dose CT scan is used.
Who should be screened?
You should consider having an annual lung cancer screening if you meet the following criteria:
- Are 55–77 years of age
- Have at least a 30-pack year smoking history
- A pack year can be calculated by taking the average number of packs smoked per day x the number of years you have been a smoker (1 pack per day x 30 years = 30-pack year)
- Are a current smoker or a former smoker who has quit within the last 15 years
- Currently have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer (e.g., worsening shortness of breath or cough, bloody sputum, pain in the chest, unexplained weight loss)
What can I expect during a lung cancer screening?
A lung cancer screening CT scan uses a low dose of radiation. During the lung screening, you will lie flat on a table that moves through a machine where several pictures of your chest will be taken. This process takes approximately 15 minutes. No needles are used in this exam.
Is lung cancer screening covered by insurance?
Screenings are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. Contact your physician to schedule a lung screening near you.
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and contributes to 80-90 percent of lung cancer deaths in both men and women, according to the American Lung Association. It is difficult to quit smoking, and may require several attempts. Multiple resources are available to help you quit. Talk to your physician for more details.
The ALMH Respiratory Therapy department offers individualized smoking cessation services. Call 217-605-5111 to learn about the program.