Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening Saves Lives

CT scan equipment

The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is by not smoking. However, people who smoke may be able to reduce their cancer risk by getting a lung cancer screening through a low-dose CT scan. This test can detect lung cancer early, when successful treatment may be more likely.

The American Lung Association and the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommend low-dose chest CT scans for people who are at high-risk for lung cancer. Studies found that low-dose chest CT scans reduced lung cancer deaths among smokers by 15 to 20 percent. The scans also reduced death from any cause during the study period by nearly 7 percent.

Cancer Free Thanks to Low-Dose Chest CT

A low-dose chest CT scan helped save the life of Elizabeth Boschetto of Bedford. Her primary care physician recommended the procedure because she was 69 years old and smoked cigarettes for more than 40 years.

She received the scan at Emerson and the images revealed a spot that was cancerous. After having lung surgery to remove the cancer, Elizabeth is now cancer free, no longer smoking, and living a healthy life.

“I absolutely recommend getting a low-dose chest CT scan, there is no question about it,” she says. “I have a happy life and am thrilled with the outcome!”

Are You at High Risk for Lung Cancer?

At present, only people who are at the highest risk for lung cancer are candidates for screening, which should be performed annually. This includes people who meet all of the following criteria*:

  • Current smoker or quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • 50 to 80 years old
  • Have a smoking history of 20 pack-years or more (for example, one pack a day for 20 years, two packs a day for 10 years, or the equivalent)
* This criteria reflects the updated guidelines published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in February 2022. Please read this press release from the CMS for more information.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women. More people die of lung cancer each year than from colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. Catching lung cancer in its early stages is critical to a healthy outcome. This is where low-dose chest CT (computed tomography) scans come in.

Understanding Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening

Chest CT scans are a type of X-ray that shows the lungs in great detail. The scans allow doctors to assess the health of the lungs with greater accuracy than is possible with standard chest X-rays.

Quick, painless, and non-invasive, low-dose chest CT scans poses few risks. The amount of radiation used compared to a routine chest CT is approximately 60 percent lower. If you are at high risk for lung cancer, talk with your doctor about whether you should receive this potentially lifesaving screening. Most insurance covers the screening for people who are high risk.

Smoking Cessation Resources

If you are a smoker, we invite you to review the following smoking cessation resources:

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