Lung Cancer Screening With Low-Dose CT Could Save Your Life

Though lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, it is treatable in up to 90% of patients if caught in its earliest stage. At UVA Radiology, we offer lung cancer screening with low-dose CT (LDCT) which can detect lung cancer before symptoms develop. This no-cost, low-radiation annual screening could save your life or the life of a loved one. Learn more about lung cancer screening below.

Signs and Symptoms

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers, affecting over 235,000 Americans in 2022 alone. It is also the most frequent cause of cancer death.

Like all cancers, lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. In this case, the growth is in the tissue of one or both lungs.

Symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • B – blood when you cough or spit
  • R – recurring respiratory infections
  • E – enduring cough that is new or different
  • A – ache or pain in shoulder, back or chest
  • T – trouble breathing
  • H – hoarseness or wheezing
  • E – exhaustion, weakness or loss of appetite

Many people will not notice any symptoms until their lung cancer is more advanced. That’s why annual screening for those who meet certain criteria is so important.

Early Detection Saves Lives

A piece of paper asking if you have done your annual lung cancer screening, accompanied by two check boxes.

While lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths, it is treatable for many people if caught early. According to the American Lung Association, when caught in its earliest stage, lung cancer is treatable in up to 90% of patients.

For those at high risk of developing lung cancer, getting screened before symptoms develop could save your life.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, responsible for up to 80% of lung cancer deaths. People who smoke are eligible for annual lung cancer screenings, covered by almost all insurance providers, if they meet the following criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 50-77
  • Have smoked the equivalent of 1 pack a day for 20 years, or 2 packs a day for 10 years
  • Currently smoke or quit smoking within the last 15 years

Other risk factors include occupational exposures, like asbestos, radon, and other types of air pollution. Family history and genetics can also play a role.

If you meet any of these risk factors or are concerned about lung cancer, speak to your primary care provider about the possibility of being screened for lung cancer.

4 Advantages of Lung Cancer Screening with Low-Dose CT

Less than 5% of lung nodules found on LDCT are actually cancerous. If lung nodules are very small and don’t change over time, they can be monitored with annual LDCT. That is why lung cancer screening involves a yearly CT scan and not just a one-time scan.

If a concerning lung nodule is found through low-dose CT screening, your healthcare provider may recommend further testing such as a biopsy. If cancer is detected early, patients have an increased chance of survival and can have minimally invasive surgeries so that less lung tissue is removed.

Lung Cancer Screening at UVA Health

Image of a patient before receiving Low-Dose CT at the UVA Hospital.

At UVA Health, we offer low-dose CT scans (LDCT). This type of lung cancer screening accurately scans for lung nodules while limiting your exposure to radiation. LDCT is the only nationally recommended screening test for lung cancer.

Our supportive staff is there every step of the way to help patients through the screening process and, if needed, in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

As one of the largest and most clinically active lung cancer clinics in the southeast, UVA offers the latest in research and technology to diagnose and treat cancers of the lung and chest cavity.

The Lung Cancer Alliance has designated UVA as a Screening Center of Excellence. “What differentiates UVA is that we have established a comprehensive screening program, providing a system of support that goes beyond just the CT scan,” says thoracic radiologist Michael Hanley, MD.

Speak to your primary care provider about having your lung cancer screening performed at one of UVA Health’s convenient locations across Virginia. To learn more about lung cancer screening at UVA Health, visit our website, email us at lungcancerscreening@virginia.edu or call us at 434.924.9333.

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4 Advantages of Lung Cancer Screening With Low-Dose CT

  1. EASY: Takes 10 minutes or less. Images taken during a single breath hold. No needles, IV or sedation.
  2. SAFE: Uses 90% less radiation than a standard CT scan. No contrast needed.
  3. ACCURATE: Creates very detailed images that allow Radiologists to see small lung modules and masses.
  4. NO-COST: If you meet screening criteria, cost is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance carriers.

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