Lung Cancer Screening Using Low Dose CT Information Guide for Patients and Referring Physicians

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Results from The National Lung Screening Trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed a dramatic reduction (20 percent) in lung cancer deaths among high-risk patients screened yearly with low-dose CT scans of the chest, in comparison to patients screened with standard chest X-rays. Screening can help find cancer at an earlier stage when it is easier to treat.


Screening is done with a low-dose spiral computed tomography (LDCT) scan. This scan is like a regular CT scan but less radiation is used. You won't need to drink contrast or have it injected.


Lung cancer screening is not for everyone. It is recommended that certain high risk individuals be screened. Refer to the guidelines on the back of this card for more information.


  • LDCT exposes you to radiation, but amounts to half of the dose the average person (living at sea level) receives from naturally occurring radioactive materials and cosmic radiation from outer space. For people living at a higher altitude, it equals one-third of the dose. LDCT exposure is one fifth of the exposure from conventional chest CT scans.
  • Abnormal findings on LDCT may require additional testing to determine whether or not cancer is present. Further testing may cause anxiety.
  • LDCT scanning may appear normal while cancer is present, but is too small to detect. This may impart a false sense of security.


Currently, most insurance carriers cover the cost of the LDCT screening if the individual is eligible. In order to be effective at detecting cancer and reducing mortality, screening is recommended on an annual basis. Cost of the exam is $99, payable at the time of service and includes both examination and radiologist interpretation.

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