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CT Lung Cancer Screening

Exam explanation

The goal of a CT Lung Cancer Screening is to detect disease at its earliest and most treatable stage. Lung cancer that is detected early — before spreading to other areas of the body — is more successfully treated. Unfortunately, when lung cancer is typically diagnosed today, the disease has already spread outside the lung in 15 to 30 percent of cases. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a draft recommendation in favor of annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT in persons at high risk for lung cancer based on age and smoking history. The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery.

Exam Preparation

Tell your physician or the technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant. Prior to the exam a technologist may speak with you on the phone to obtain necessary medical information and discuss instructions to be followed the day of the exam.

During the Exam

After you arrive for your appointment, you may need to remove your shirt and change into a gown. You will need to remove any jewelry that may be in the way, such as a necklace.

Once you are prepared for your exam, the technologist, who is specially trained in imaging procedures, will help position you on the table of the CT scanner. You will lie face up and the table will move into the large donut-shaped scanner. While inside the scanner, you will be able to see your outside surroundings. The technologist will talk with you from the control room where they can see you at all times. It is very important to lie completely still. The table will move slowly through the machine as the images are created. Periodically, the voice-activated component may speak to you, instructing you to hold your breath for a short period in order to create a clear picture of your lungs. Most CT lung cancer screenings take about 10-15 minutes.