How to Get a Lung Cancer Screening

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Worried about lung cancer? Getting a lung cancer screening might be the answer. 

First Step: Find Out Your Risk

First, you need to talk to your doctor. You'll need to review your smoking history and your health. During this visit, you'll find out your risk for lung cancer. If you're a high-risk smoker, you may qualify for a screening.

You don't need to be a UVA patient to get screened.

Advanced CT Technology Recognition

Lung Cancer Screening Designation Logo

The Lung Cancer Alliance designated UVA as a Screening Center of Excellence. This means we follow national guidelines. We also follow best practices developed by the National Lung Screening Trial for:

  • Scan quality
  • Radiation dose
  • Diagnostic procedures

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has accredited four of our locations for:

  • Meeting rigorous safety and diagnostic care measures
  • Making sure proper follow-up procedures take place
  • Offering programs to high-risk lung cancer patients to help them quit smoking

You can get a lung cancer screening at these accredited locations:

Getting Screened

Aimee Strong, DNP, AGACNP-BC, explains who should get screened and how the process works. View transcript.

Para ver en español, haga clic aquí.

Do You Qualify for a Lung Cancer Screening?

You have to have a high risk for lung cancer to get screened. In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new guidelines for screening. You should talk to your insurance provider about what your plan covers.

To qualify for a screening, you must:

  • Be without cancer symptoms
  • Be between ages 50 and 80
  • Be a smoker of at least 1 pack a day for 20 years 
  • Have quit smoking within the past 15 years or still smoke

Costs & Insurance

Medicare and Medicaid will cover lung cancer screening if you:

  • Are between ages 50 and 77
  • Smoked at least 1 pack a day for 20 years or more
  • Are without cancer symptoms
  • Are a current smoker, or quit in the last 15 years

Have different insurance? Talk to your provider about what your plan covers.

Do you have Medicaid or Medicare? Find out how they pay for lung screenings.

Don't know if you can pay? No matter what, call us.

Screening Shows a Lung Nodule? Next Steps

Most lung nodules turn out to be benign. But your doctor may not be able to tell until they take a small sample (biopsy) of the nodule and test it.

UVA Health is the first in the region to offer a lung biopsy that is robotic assisted. Known as Ion, this system helps doctors better reach very tiny nodules in far corners of the lungs. These are areas that used to be out of reach. 

Ion is made by Intuitive, the pioneer in robotic-assisted surgery with da Vinci systems.

Ask your physician if this tool is right for you.

What To Expect During a Lung Biopsy

Your physician will insert a bronchoscope (very thin, bendable tube with a camera) down your airway to see inside your lungs.

Once at the location of the nodule, your physician will lock the bronchoscope into place. Then they’ll thread biopsy tools through the tube to take a sample of your lung tissue.

If your biopsy shows cancer, you'll get lifesaving lung cancer treatment from a highly skilled team of experts.