Lung Cancer Screening FAQs

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Who should get screened for lung cancer with a low-dose CT (LDCT) of the chest? 

You should get screened if you:

  • Are aged 50 - 80
  • Have smoked an average of 1 pack a day for 20 years
  • Still smoke or quit within the past 15 years
  • Don't have any symptoms, like unexplained cough, shortness of breath, and unexplained weight loss

How effective is screening for lung cancer with LDCT of the chest?

This test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from lung cancer by as much as 20% compared to chest X-ray.

How often should screening for lung cancer with a LDCT of the chest occur?

The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends that those that meet the criteria get screened every year. Some patients may be asked to come back sooner if a nodule is found.

Are there risks associated with getting an LDCT of the chest?

While this is a safe procedure, the scan does have a few small risks.

Exposure to Radiation

While high doses of radiation can increase chances of developing cancer, low doses of radiation are relatively safe. At UVA we use special techniques to reduce the amount of radiation you receive. The amount of radiation used during this test is less than what we are exposed to annually from the sun and earth.

False Positives

Sometimes screenings find something that looks like cancer but isn't. We call this a false positive. False positives may require you to have more tests than you need.

lung cancer doctors reviewing scans

Incidental Findings

While this exam scans your lungs, it captures images of other body parts, too. These include your thyroid gland, heart, bones and the organs in the upper part of your abdomen. About 5% to 10% of the time, we'll see something in these areas that require further scans.

What should I expect during the screening?

The screening CT scan is a relatively simple procedure. You will need to lie flat on the scanner table for less than 10 minutes. It is a noninvasive procedure; you won’t need to get an IV for the test.

What results can I expect from the screening?

Most scans find lung nodules. The majority of these nodules are benign. We'll need to do more tests to see if the nodule is cancerous.  

When will I get the results?

Our designated lung cancer screening program coordinator will contact you within three days of your screening to deliver the results as well as discuss with you the next steps in the screening process.

Who will get the results of the screening?

The results of your lung cancer screening will be sent to the healthcare provider who ordered the exam.

How much does a screening cost?

Screenings are fully covered by Medicare and Medicaid if you meet the eligibility guidelines found here. With other insurance companies, the cost varies. Our designated lung cancer screening program coordinator can help you. With the right information, you can contact your insurance and find out the exact price. 

What resources are available to help me quit smoking?

Talk to our smoking cessation counselor to learn about our programs. You can get help developing a personal plan to quit.

Who can I call if I think I qualify for a LDCT of the chest to screen for lung cancer?

If you think you qualify or have any other questions, contact our coordinator at: