Lung Cancer Screening: Who and When?

By Alyssa Speicher June 22, 2017

Lung cancer is the #1 cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Lung cancer is most treatable and oftentimes curable when found at the earliest stages, so annual screenings are very important. Typically, once a person starts to show symptoms of lung cancer, it is often too late to treat and cure. At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, we recommend annual lung cancer screenings for those who are at highest risk of developing the disease.


Learn more about lung cancer screenings and see if you are eligible:

(Text only version)

Lung Cancer Screening Infographic

Learn more about lung cancer screening at the UVA Cancer Center.

Special thanks to Dr. Michael Hanley and Nurse Practitioner Melissa Stanley for your help with this post!

For more about lung cancer and lung cancer screenings, visit this website from the Lung Cancer Society or this virtual booklet from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. See how to schedule a screening at UVA or calculate your pack years. If you want to quit smoking, see how UVA can help you stop smoking.





Infographic Text: Lung Cancer Screening
Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the United States, accounting for approximately 27% of cancer deaths.
Learn about lung cancer screening and see if you are eligible:
  • What is lung cancer screening? Screening is a test that can detect lung cancer in its earliest stages, before you have symptoms, when it is most treatable and even curable.
    • If not detected before symptoms occur, lung cancer is often not treatable.
    • There are 20% fewer cancer-related deaths in those who are at high-risk when they have regular screenings.
  • Who should be screened?
    • Only those at high-risk should be screened. You are at high-risk if you meet all three of these qualifications:
      • Age 55-77
      • 30 pack-years (1 pack a day for 30 years or equivalent)
      • Smoked within past 15 years
  • How does a screening work?
    • Lung screenings are safe and use a Low-Dose CT scan to get the images necessary to potentially detect cancer.
    • Low dose CT scans (LDCTs) use up to 90% less radiation than normal CT scans.
  • What if something is detected?
    • If a lung nodule is detected, your radiologist will most recommend a future test to monitor it for growth. You may have another LDCT scan, a PET scan, or a biopsy.
  • How often should I be screened?
    • Get screened once a year while you are high-risk and healthy enough for the scan. You must be screened more than once for screening to be effective.
  • How much does screening cost?
    • If you are at high-risk for lung cancer, Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance will fully cover one scan per year starting at age 55 until age 77.
  • What are the risks?
    • A false negative could occur where a nodule isn’t detected but cancer exists.
    • A false positive could occur where a nodule is detected but no cancer exists. This could lead to unnecessary testing.
  • Where can I be screened?
    • You’ll want to be screened somewhere that has experience with LDCT scans, and the ability to treat lung cancer if detected. The UVA Health System has both experience with LDCT scans as well as the ability to treat lung cancer.
  • How can I reduce my risk of lung cancer?
    • Because smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer, the best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer is to quit. UA offers to help our patients who want to quit smoking. See all the things we can offer you at: cancer.uvahealth.com/stopsmoking.

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