Lung cancer screening

Together, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and UW Medicine offer screening for people at high risk for lung cancer. The simple and quick scan, called a low-dose computed tomography (CT), is the only recommended screening test for the disease. Survival rates for lung cancer improve dramatically when it's detected early.

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Important notice

Our patients' health and safety is our top priority. Learn more about what we are doing in the midst of COVID-19 in the letter linked below. 

Letter to Lung Cancer Screening Patients (PDF)

Should I get screened?

You may benefit from annual screening if all of these are true:

  • You are between 55 and 80 years old.
  • You currently smoke, or you quit in the last 15 years.
  • You smoked an average of at least 1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years.

These lung cancer screening guidelines come from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Learn More at USPSTF

Additional screening criteria

Individuals who are 50 or older and have smoked 1 pack a day for 20 years or more should consider screening if they have one of the following risk factors:

  • You have documented high radon exposure.
  • You have had occupational exposure to silica, cadmium, asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, nickel or diesel fumes.
  • You are a survivor of lung cancer, lymphoma or head and neck cancer.
  • You have a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pulmonary fibrosis.
  • You have a family history of lung cancer.

The second group of high-risk patients is meant to be of similar risk for lung cancer as those studied in the National Lung Screening Trial. But it is not completely known how much this group will benefit from CT screening since there are no data from a randomized trial.

Secondhand smoke exposure is NOT an independent risk factor for lung cancer CT screening.

Screening resources

  • Calculate your lung cancer risk with a quick online survey. Go Here For Survey
  • Listen to an interview with SCCA physicians on lung cancer screening. Listen Here
Learn how screening works, who it's for and what to expect from SCCA pulmonologists.

Request an appointment

If you think you qualify for screening, please contact your primary care doctor to obtain an order for the exam. Orders can be faxed to (206) 606-6729.

CT Lung Cancer Screening Order Form (PDF) 

Once an order has been placed and you are ready to schedule or if you have any questions about our Lung Cancer Screening Program, please call us at (206) 606-1434.

We offer six convenient locations throughout Puget Sound:

  • SCCA South Lake Union
  • UW Medical Center
  • UW Roosevelt Campus
  • UWMC-Northwest
  • Harborview Medical Center
  • UW Eastside Specialty Center

To promote Indigenous health, SCCA established the həliʔil Program to reach out to tribal nations and Indigenous groups in our region to promote lung cancer screening.

Learn More About the həliʔil Program

What does screening involve?

The scan is fast, simple, painless and you can stay fully clothed. A low-dose CT scan is a special kind of X-ray that takes multiple pictures as you lie on a table that slides in and out of the machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed picture of your lungs.

Watch our short video to learn about lung cancer screening.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does insurance cover lung cancer screening?

Yes. All private health plans, Medicaid and Medicare cover lung cancer screening. Specifically, private health plans and Washington State Medicaid (Washington Apple Health) cover lung cancer screening for eligible individuals ages 55 to 80. Medicare covers lung cancer screening for eligible individuals ages 55 to 77. Most follow-up care required after the exam will be covered by your insurance or Medicare or Medicaid. Contact your insurance carrier to check your coverage.

Why choose SCCA/UW Medicine's program for lung cancer screening?

Center of Excellence sealOur program was one of the first in the nation to be named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. We are also accredited by the American College of Radiology. 

If your screening shows that you need further care, the doctors in our Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic and our lung cancer program are ready to help guide you through next steps.

Where can I find resources to help quit smoking?

The best way to reduce your risk of getting lung cancer is to stop smoking. It can be hard to quit smoking, but you can do it. And, you don’t have to do it alone. Your care team is here to support you. Here are some additional resources that can help you succeed: