Healthscreen™ Arkansas: CT Lung Screening
CT Lung Screening can greatly improve the likelihood of detecting small non-calcified nodules. Some of these nodules may be lung cancer detected at an earlier and potentially more curable state than with chest x-rays.
Because lung cancer often spreads beyond the lungs before causing any symptoms, early detection through screening could save many lives. The test is specifically designed to rapidly screen the lungs with minimal radiation exposure. This test in not designed nor intended to evaluate the heart, blood vessels, lymph nodes or bones. CT Lung Screening can transform the prognosis for lung cancer, just as mammography does for breast cancer and the PAP test does for cervical cancer.
Congratulations on taking the first step toward the goal of a longer, healthier life!
Who Should Have CT Lung Screening & Why?
Most people with lung cancer do not have symptoms. Currently only 15% of lung cancer is caught in early stages.
Routine chest x-rays have been shown ineffective to screen for lung cancer until they are of advanced stage. Lung cancers are often the size of an orange by the time they are discovered. In contrast Computerized Tomography (CT) can detect both non-small cell lung cancer, and small cell lung cancer when lesions are no larger than a small marble.
You may have a higher risk for lung cancer if you answer YES to any of the following risk factors:
- Current or former cigarette smoker
- Current or former cigar smoker
- Current or former pipe smoker
- Current or former marijuana smoker
- Exposed to a significant amount of second hand smoke
- Family history of lung cancer
- Increased exposure to asbestos, radon, nickel, chlorinated solvents or other known carcinogens
- Exposed to fuels such as gasoline and diesel exhaust
- Suffer recurring inflammation of the lungs such as tuberculosis or pneumonia
- There is no evidence smoking low tar cigarettes reduces risk of lung cancer.
- Marijuana contains more tar than cigarettes
- Cigars and pipes are also associated with the risk of lung cancer
Do I Need To See My Primary Care Doctor First?
We encourage all patients to work with their primary care physician in incorporating the results of this test into their own preventive health care plan. However, a physician referral is not necessary for this test.
Why CT Lung Screening?
While chest x-rays have been shown ineffective to screen for lung cancer, CT Lung Screening can detect both non-small cell lung cancer, and small cell lung cancer. Also, lung cancer often has no symptoms until it has spread (metastasized) making CT Lung Screening an optimal screening and diagnostic tool.
How Does CT Lung Screening Work?
This procedure is non-claustrophobic, painless and non-invasive. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete. The CT scanner can detect cancerous nodules that are too small to be detected by a chest x-ray, the standard screening method for lung cancer. This low-dose CT scan does not utilize intravenous contrast, making it suitable for patients with contrast allergies.
What To Expect During Your Exam
- Arrive 15 minutes early to fill out a patient questionnaire
- Technologist will then assist you to the CT room and placed on a comfortable table
- The table will be moved to the starting position
- Screening begins, and table moves slowly through the scanner
- The machine rotates around patient
- Computer creates images of the lungs
- You will be asked to hold your breath while the images are taken
No need to worry; the Technologist will be in contact with you throughout the procedure, explaining everything as it happens.
- You may eat or drink prior to the exam.
- Wear comfortable clothing without metal buttons, snaps, or zippers. If this is not possible, a gown will be provided for you.
What Do The Results Mean?
A Radiologic Physician reviews each screening exam. In most cases, the CT Lung Screening will show the lungs to be normal. However, a variety of lung abnormalities may be detected by CT that could go undetected on routine chest x-rays. Most abnormalities will be benign, that is, not cancer and will not indicate any serious abnormality or condition. Some of these abnormalities may not require any further examination; others will necessitate radiographic follow-up; still others may prompt your primary care physician to order immediate further work-up. A letter will be sent to you and your primary care physician with the results of your CT Lung Screening along with follow-up recommendations.
Test Results Positive: Can Anything Be Done?
Yes. If the Radiologic Physician detects a pulmonary nodule that raises concern, you will be urged to contact your primary care physician. Your primary care physician may ask you to return for a diagnostic Chest CT, which allows further characterization of nodules detected by the screening exam. It will also allow for evaluation of other structures in the chest. Other tests might include chest x-ray, bronchoscopy, sputum cytology, and biopsy. Additional tests would be considered “diagnostic testing” and should be covered according to your individual health insurance plan.
Test Results Positive: Does It Mean I Have Lung Cancer?
No. Frequently, nodules detected on the screening exam are subsequently revealed to be benign granulomas or scars on the diagnostic study. These often can be managed with little use or no use of invasive diagnostic procedures.
Will My Insurance Pay For This Exam?
- Adults age 55-77 years
- Current smoker, or quit less than 15 years ago
- No known diseases that would prevent curative lung surgery
Early Detection Is The Key!
NOTE: Low-dose CT Lung Screening is not a substitute for a traditional Chest CT. CT Lung Screening is intended for asymptomatic patients. It is not designed nor intended to screen for abnormalities of the heart, aorta, lymph nodes or bones.
Early Detection Screening Is The Key!