Detecting Lung Cancer Earlier With a Low-Dose CT Scan

March 30, 2020
Illustration of shapes in human lungs

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. However, non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common type, can sometimes be cured if detected early. St. Mary’s now offers low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for people who are at high risk.

Why Earlier is Better

Screening is important because by the time symptoms appear, the cancer already will have reached an advanced stage. The scan is simple, painless and non-invasive, and recommended for those considered high risk based on their age, smoking history and other factors. Medicare covers screening for lung cancer, and private insurance may also cover screenings for high-risk individuals.

Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer,* so quitting smoking is critical. A doctor can help guide individuals who smoke to resources, such as nicotine replacements (including gums and patches), medications, behavior modification, community helplines and others.

Could you be a candidate for lung screening?

  • Are you a smoker or former smoker who has quit in the past 15 years?
  • Are you healthy with no personal history of lung cancer?
  • Are you between the ages of 55 and 70?
  • Did you smoke the equivalent of “30 pack years” (one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years or any combination of years and packs that equals 30)?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, talk with your doctor to see if LDCT lung cancer screening is right for you.

Lung Facts

Lung screening is quick and easy
The test takes a matter of minutes, and there is no prep required.

Talk to your doctor, even if you are not high risk
Secondhand smoke kills about 7,300 people a year, according to the CDC. If you have had exposure to this or other substances like radon or asbestos, check with your doctor about getting scanned.

Vaping – no safer than cigarettes
E-cigarettes expose the user to harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and nicotine.