Low-Dose Lung CT Screening
Lung Cancer Screening
Lung Cancer is the #1 cause of cancer death in the United States; it kills more people than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. Early detection of lung cancer and surgical removal of it is one of the ways that can help people live better and longer. United Regional offers the low-dose CT technology that can help identify lung cancer early in people at high risk for lung cancer.
What is Low-Dose Lung CT?
CT (computed tomography) also known as a CAT scan, is a type of x-ray used when physicians need a detailed look at a specific part of your body. Low- dose means that the CT scan uses very little radiation and it results in minimal negative effects to your body – approximately the same amount of radiation you’re exposed to during an airplane flight. The screening is helpful in detecting early-stage lung cancer before you experience symptoms.
Who is a candidate for Low-Dose Lung CT?
According to guidelines published by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force you are eligible if you are:
• between 55 and 77 years old
• have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
• currently smoke or quit smoking in the last 15 years
• smoked at least an estimated one pack a day for 30 years
• smoked at least an estimated two packs a day for 15 years
• be willing to be screened every year until you are 77 years old or have not smoked in last 15 years
What is the cost for a Low-Dose Lung CT Scan?
Many insurance plans cover lung cancer screening for eligible individuals ages. Medicare and Medicaid cover lung cancer screening for eligible individuals ages 55 to 77 who are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. The out-of-pocket cost for the low-dose lung CT screen is $150 in the absence of insurance. Most follow-up care required after the exam will be covered by your insurance or Medicare/Medicaid. Please check with your insurance carrier to confirm coverage.
What if something abnormal is found during screening?
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 out of 4 screening tests will show something abnormal in the lungs or nearby areas that might be cancer. Most of these abnormal findings will turn out not to be cancer, but additional CT scans or other tests will be needed.
Typically the next step is to get a repeat CT scan to see if the nodule is growing over time. The time between scans might range anywhere from about a month to a year. This is based on the size, shape, and location of the nodule, as well as whether it appears to be solid or filled with fluid. If the nodule is larger, your physician might also want to get another type of imaging test called a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which can often help tell if it is cancer.
If the second scan shows that the nodule has grown, or if the nodule has other concerning features, your physician will want to get a sample of it to check it for cancer cells – this is called a biopsy. In some cases, if the nodule is within the bronchial tubes, United Regional offers the new technology of an ultrasound endoscope which allows for a minimally invasive way to perform biopsies of tumors and lymph nodes. Some nodules will need to be biopsied with CT Scan guidance. Both procedures are done on an outpatient basis.
Make an Appointment
If you think you qualify for a low-dose lung CT screening,
please ask your physician to make a referral to United Regional.
Your physician may fax a prescription to 940-764-4060.