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Low-Dose CT Lung Scans

Why we only screen people who are at high risk

A better, safer way to view the lungs

Traditional x-rays provide a 2-dimensional view of the chest, showing the lungs as well as the heart, bone and soft tissue - all of which can mask abnormalities. Low-dose Computed Tomography (CT) lung scans create a detailed, 3-dimensional image, giving doctors a clearer, unobstructed view of the lungs - and the ability to detect tiny nodules that would often not be visible on a chest x-ray. That's why we use low-dose CT scans for our Early Lung Cancer Screening program.

Risks and benefits

Not everyone needs to or should get an Early Lung Cancer Screening - they are only being offered to people who meet the criteria for high-risk. There are several reasons:

  • Safety - All imaging tests involve some level of radiation exposure. Even though these are "low-dose" CTs, it is not recommended for people who are not high-risk, as there is no evidence to prove a benefit for them.
  • False Positives - CT scans are very sensitive tests that can pick up many "false positives" - abnormalities in the lungs that are not cancer, and are unlikely to ever cause a problem. These findings may be small scars, enlarged blood vessels or tiny lymph nodes. However, when detected on CT, these abnormalities must be evaluated, which may cause anxiety. Evaluation will be either follow-up scans or, in rare cases, biopsies or other procedures, for what usually proves to be benign disease. There is some degree of risk for invasive procedures such as biopsies.

The NCH Early Lung Cancer Screening program follows the protocols of the eight-year National Lung Screening Trial, which was conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network and the National Cancer Institute.

Benefits for high-risk smokers

In deciding to have an Early Lung Cancer Screening, each person must weigh the risks and benefits. For high-risk and former smokers, the benefits can be great:

  • Safer - Low-dose CT scans utilize a lower, safer level of radiation than regular CT scans
  • Peace of mind - Relief if the screening results are negative
  • Hope - A chance to detect lung cancer at an early, more treatable stage. In the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, 40% of the cancers detected were found at an early and treatable stage.
  • Incentive - Another reason to quit smoking before it's too late
  • Help - Unlimited guidance and support in quitting

Don't wait. The time to know is now.

Catch cancer early, when it's most treatable. For questions about eligibility or to request a screening, call Juli Aistars, RN, APN, AOCN, TTS, Lung Nurse Navigator at 847-618-6572.

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Last Updated 2013/06/18