Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening 

Low-dose CT lung cancer screening coming soon

With the arrival of the 128-slice CT scanner at The University of Kansas Health System Great Bend Campus, our imaging team will soon be able to offer low-dose CT lung screening for those at high risk of lung cancer.

Research shows low-dose CT is most successful at detecting lung cancer in individuals at risk. Yearly screening saves lives by finding cancer early when it’s easier to treat. Studies show that when compared to single-view chest X-ray screening, this type of lung screening can lower the risk of death from lung cancer by 20% in people who are at risk.

Who should have LDCT?

To qualify for low-dose CT lung cancer screening, you must meet the high-risk criteria:

  • Be 50-77 years old

  • Currently a smoker or quit smoking within the past 15 years

  • Have smoked at least 20 pack years – the equivalent of 1 pack a day every day for 20 years
     

If you are high-risk, low-dose CT lung screening is recommended every year until you are age 77 or it has been more than 15 years since you quit smoking. Your physician will help determine if a low-dose CT scan is right for you.

Low-dose CT is one of the easiest screenings you can have. The exam itself usually takes less than 10 minutes. No medication is required, and we don’t use any needles. If the clothing on your chest doesn’t contain metal, you won’t even have to change clothes. You may be asked to hold your breath for 5-10 seconds at a time at times during the scan. 

Potential risks

Risks associated with low-dose CT lung screening include:

  • Radiation exposure: Low-dose CT lung screening uses radiation to create images of your lungs. Radiation can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. By using special techniques, the amount of radiation in this screening is small – about the normal amount received from the sun in a year.

  • False negatives: It is possible that you may have a medical condition, including lung cancer, that is not found during your exam. This results in a false negative.

  • False positives/additional testing: Low-dose CT lung screening sometimes finds something in the lung that could be cancerous but is not. This is called a false positive and can cause anxiety. To make sure these findings are not cancerous, you may need to have more tests. These tests are only performed with your permission. Occasionally, patients need a procedure, such as a biopsy, that can have potential side effects.
     

Your low-dose CT lung screening also captures images of areas of your body next to your lungs. About 5-10% of screenings will show an abnormal finding in areas such as the kidneys, adrenal glands, liver, heart vessels or thyroid. The findings may not be serious, but you may need additional screenings. Your healthcare provider who ordered your exam can help determine what, if any, additional testing you may need.

What can I expect from the results?

About 1 in 4 LDCT lung screenings will find something in the lungs that may require imaging or evaluation. Most of the time, these findings are lung nodules. Lung nodules are very small collections of tissue in the lungs. These nodules are very common, and the vast majority of them – more than 97% – are not cancerous. Most are normal lymph nodes or small areas of scarring from past infections.

If a small lung nodule is cancerous, the cancer can be cured more than 90% of the time.

We will send the results to your physician who placed the lung screening order.

Interested in a low-dose CT lung screening?

Talk to your doctor or care provider.