Lung Cancer Screening: FAQs

Make an Appointment

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

People who are aged 55-77 that have smoked an average of one pack per day for 30 years and are currently still smoking or have quit within the past 15 years. Patients should not have any symptoms. Examples are unexplained cough, new 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?

Screening for lung cancer with an LDCT scan of the chest is a safe procedure, but there are a few small risks you should be aware of before your scan.

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

Screening exams will sometimes find something in the lung that looks like cancer but turns out to be nothing of concern. This is called a false positive. False positives may require you to have more tests to determine whether the findings in your lung are cancer.

lung cancer doctors reviewing scans

Incidental Findings

While the screening exam is intended to image your lungs for lung cancer, other areas of your body are imaged at the same time, including your thyroid gland, heart, bones and the organs in the upper part of your abdomen. A small number of screening examinations, approximately 5% to 10%, will find something in these areas that will require further examination.

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?

The majority of findings from screening are lung nodules. The majority of these nodules are benign, however, additional testing is often needed to find out 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. With other insurance companies, the cost of screening varies based on insurance carrier and the coverage you have with that carrier. Our designated lung cancer screening program coordinator can help provide you with the information needed to contact your insurance carrier to determine the exact price.

What resources are available to help me quit smoking?

Our smoking cessation counselor is available to discuss the tools available for smoking cessation and can work with you to develop 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 for screening or have any other questions about the lung cancer screening program, please contact our coordinator by phone at 434.924.9333 or by email at