A low-dose CT lung screen is a lung cancer screening that produces images of the lungs for analysis. A screening is a study to test for presence of a disease in high-risk patients without symptoms. This study uses computed tomography (CT) technology to produce high-quality images with a low dose of radiation.

What are the benefits of CT lung screening?
Computed tomography (CT) of the chest provides high-resolution pictures of the lungs, allowing detection of abnormal spots called “nodules” within the lungs. These nodules are usually too small to be seen on chest X-ray.

Who should have a low-dose CT lung screen?
Current guidelines suggest two high-risk groups receive lung screenings. If you fall into one of the following groups, you should have a low-dose CT lung screen.

  • People 55 years old and older who have smoked for 30 or more “pack years.”
  • People 50 years old and older who have smoked for 20 or more “pack years” and have at least one or more risk factors other than second-hand smoke.

Recent research shows that patients with a high risk for lung cancer who undergo a yearly low-dose CT are diagnosed earlier, with smaller sized tumors. For example, recent studies show 60- 80% of lung cancers are diagnosed in Stage IA—the earliest stage of lung cancer. But, if no screening test is performed, only 15% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at Stage IA.

Screening is not recommended for high-risk people with poor health, who if diagnosed with cancer would not be able to receive curative treatment. However, for those who qualify, Premier Radiology offers low-dose CT lung screening for $99.

What are pack years?
Pack years can be calculated by following this prompt: Number of packs per day x years of smoking = pack years. For example, 1.5 pack a day x 30 years = 45 pack years.

How to prepare for a lung screening
Typically, no special preparation is needed for a low-dose CT lung scan. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for your study, including:

  • Bring your insurance card and photo identification
  • On the day of your exam, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • Avoid clothing with metal zippers, hair pins, jewelry and snaps
  • Take your usual medications
  • Always inform your technologist or doctor if you are pregnant or could be pregnant

What to expect during a CT
A low-dose CT lung examination usually takes about five to ten minutes. The technologist will ask you to lay on the CT table and help position you based on your study. You will be alone in the room during your scan; however, the technologist can see, hear and speak with you at all times.

When your examination is over, you may resume your normal daily activities unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. One of our board-certified radiologists will review the images and send a report to your doctor.

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