Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening
Early detection is a proven, successful strategy for fighting many forms of cancer. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance offers screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) for people at high risk for lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. More than 75 percent of people with lung cancer have incurable, locally advanced, or metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. Their five-year survival rate is less than 5 percent.
Detecting lung cancer at its earliest stage, and having it surgically removed, means a person can expect a five-year survival rate closer to 70 percent! These statistics come from the results of the National Lung Screening Trial that was published in June 2011. Read more about this trial here.
Patients at high risk for lung cancer who benefited from CT screening in the National Lung Screening Trial had the following characteristics:
- Were between the ages of 55 and 74
- Were current smokers or quit within the last 15 years
- Smoked for 30 or more pack years*
In addition to the above characteristics, individuals are considered to be at high risk for lung cancer by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network if they have the characteristics listed below, however, it is uncertain whether CT screening decreases the risk of these individuals dying from lung cancer:
- Are age 50 or older
- Smoked for 20 or more pack years*
Have one additional risk factor for lung cancer which includes any ONE of the following:
- Documented high radon exposure
- Occupational exposure to silica, cadmium, asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, nickel or diesel fumes
- Are a survivor of lung cancer, lymphoma, or head and neck cancer
- Have a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pulmonary fibrosis
- Have a family history of lung cancer
*pack-years = average number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked.
(It is unknown if this second group of high-risk patients will benefit from CT screening since there are no data to address this question.)
Secondhand smoke exposure is NOT an independent risk factor for lung cancer CT screening.
Cost for CT Scan
Your insurance company will be billed for the low-dose CT screening, but there is a high likelihood that the screening exam will not be a covered benefit. The out-of-pocket cost for the CT screen is $300. Most follow-up care required after the exam will be covered by your insurance or Medicare/Medicaid. Check with your insurance carrier to make sure.
Make an Appointment
If you think you qualify for a low-dose CT screening, you may call the Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic at (206) 288-6734, or have your doctor call us with a referral.
Help to Quit
If you need help quitting smoking, contact SCCA's Smoke-Free Life Program at (206) 288-7517.