Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality in this country, killing more than 161,000 people per year. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) by National Cancer Institute (NCI) showed that using low-dose CT scans instead of chest x-rays to screen current or former heavy smokers, decreased the risk of mortality from lung cancer by 20 percent.
Benefits of CT Scan Over Chest X-ray
- Using a CT scan increases the detection of lung cancer at Stage 1 up to 85 percent.
- Lung cancer is often not found on a chest x-ray, until the tumor is relatively large, requiring more invasive treatments and less favorable outcomes. By using low-dose spiral computed tomography (Spiral CT) — a special type of X-ray imaging more sensitive than routine chest X-rays — it is anticipated that more lung cancer cases will be found at an earlier stage of growth; and in turn will improve survival rates.
- The amount of radiation a person would receive is significantly reduced as compared to that of a standard-dose diagnostic CT scan.
Lung Cancer Screening Qualifications
The Lung Cancer Screening Program at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers low-dose CT scans of the chest to screen for lung cancer in individuals who meet established high-risk criteria.
Based on findings from the National Lung Screening Trial, if you are at high risk for developing lung cancer, having a low-dose CT scan of the chest may save your life.
Screening for lung cancer is quick and easy, and results in a minimal amount of radiation exposure. The screening is offered to individuals who meet the established National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) high risk criteria and meet the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Medicare and most health insurance plans cover the cost of lung cancer screening as long as you meet the criteria. A lung cancer screening is recommended if you:
- Are between 55 and 77-years-old
- Are currently a smoker or have quit within the past 15 years
- Have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years (or the equivalent)
If your health insurance does not cover lung cancer screening, the cost is $150.
If you meet the above criteria, or you have any questions, please call (562) 661-1001 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Before a CT scan of the chest is done to screen for lung cancer, a member of our medical team will meet with you to help you make an informed decision as to whether or not you should have a screening chest CT scan. This will ensure the decision is sound and based on the best data available, and not on fear or anxiety. Your physician or other health care provider can fax a referral to us at (562) 933-1886, or send a referral through the electronic medical record system.
A lung cancer screening does not obligate you to return to the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center for any further screenings, evaluation or other services.