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A Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening Could Save Your Life!
What You Need To Know
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among both men and women. Majority of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking and usually not detected until symptoms develop. By that time, the disease is often more advanced, making a cure much less likely.
Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) provides earlier detection, when lung cancer is most treatable and curable. It works much like an x-ray to produce images of your chest and lungs. The National Lung Screen Trial (NLST) findings reveal that those who receive LDCT had a 15-20% lower risk of dying from lung cancer than those that received standard chest X-rays. If you have a high risk of lung cancer but no signs or symptoms, a LDCT screening could help you catch potentially cancerous spots at their earliest and most treatable stage.
What's My Risk?
You are considered High Risk if you are:
- A current or former smoker age 55-77 AND you have a 30 pack per year history
- Older than 50 with a 20+ pack per year history plus:
- Radon or occupational carcinogen exposure (asbestos, arsenic, diesel fumes, etc.)
- Family history of lung cancer
- COPD or pulmonary fibrosis
- Personal history of lung cancer, lymphoma, or head, neck, throat cancer
Should I be screened?
Discuss your medical history, the risks of screening and benefits with your physician. Your doctor will help you decide if screening is right for you based on your age, smoking history, and other factors and will recommend a lung screening if necessary.
Initial Consultation and CT Scan
If you would like to undergo a LDCT lung screening, the first step is an appointment with your primary care provider. This appointment will be a time to discuss your age, smoking history and other factors in order for your physician to determine if you are eligible. If you are eligible, your primary care provider will schedule your low-dose lung CT scan.
Follow-up: What happens next?
Your medical provider will call you soon after your screening to explain your results and discuss any additional necessary medical care. If the CT scan were to detect any potentially cancerous nodules, another screening may be needed after a few months to monitor your lungs’ conditions. Regardless of your results, annual screenings are recommended, as yearly low-dose CT scans have been shown to decrease mortality in patients who had increased risk due to smoking.
Is Screening Covered by My Insurance?
Medicare and medicaid covers the cost of low-dose CT screenings. Many private health insurers provide coverage as well. Talk to your doctor or your insurance provider about eligibility and cost information.
What You Can Do
- If you are a smoker, STOP SMOKING.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
- Make your home and work environment smoke-free.
- Test your home for radon.
- Be aware of industrial compounds.
If you are still smoking, talk to your physician about ways to help you quit.
For more information on lung cancer screening, please contact your primary care provider.
If you do not have a physician, call our Physician Referral Line at 1.800.424.DOCS (3627).
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