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Professional Radiology and Outpatient Imaging Services

Procedure Prep - Lung Screening

Who should have this screening?

CT Lung Cancer Screening is considered an annual exam, and intended for individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Men and women who are between the ages of 55 to 80 (Medicare ages 55-77) and
  • Current or former smokers (quit within last 15 years) and
  • 30 pack year history (number of packs per day x number of years smoked)

Why should I have the screening?

An x-ray of the chest can be taken to look for early lung cancer, but recent medical studies have shown that low-dose CT scans provide better results. CT scans are able to detect very small nodules in the lung. Chest CT is especially effective for diagnosing lung cancer at its earliest, most curable stage.

In 2010, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) found 20% fewer lung cancer deaths among participants screened with low-dose CT compared to those screened with chest X-rays.

What does the screening tell me?

A low-dose chest CT screening may detect lung abnormalities or nodules that would not otherwise be visible on a plain chest x-ray. Many nodules will be non-cancerous and require no treatment. Some nodules may require further testing.

Is Low Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening Safe?

Screening with low-dose CT will detect small spots or nodules in at least 25% of people who get scanned. Most of these nodules are not cancer; only 3 or 4 per 100 lung nodules are cancer. There is some additional radiation exposure with low-dose CT. The effective dose for lowdose CT lung screening is approximately equivalent to the radiation exposure the average Minnesotan gets in four to eight months from sources occurring in nature.

How should I prepare?

If your previous imaging was not done at one of our locations, you may be asked to contact your former provider and request that your film be sent to us for a comparison study.

  • Wear comfortable clothes without metal fasteners, including zippers, buttons and snaps.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
  • Bring with you: your appointment form, insurance card and a valid photo ID

How long does the screening take?

A Low Dose Lung CT is one of the easiest screening exams you can have. The exam takes less than 10 seconds. No medications are given, and no needles are used. You can eat before and after the exam. You do not even need to get changed as long as the clothing on your chest does not contain metal. You must, however, be able to hold your breath for at least 6 seconds while the chest scan is being taken.

What happens after my screening?

Your images will be interpreted by one of our board-certified radiologists. The results will be sent to your healthcare provider, so that they can review the results with you and determine if any follow-up is needed.

Is the screening covered by insurance?

If the screening criteria is met, CT Lung Cancer Screenings are covered by most insurance companies, including Medicare, with a referral from a healthcare provider. Be sure to check with your insurance plan to see if coverage is available for you.