CT Lung Screening
Meet Kathy, Tucson team member
With 20 years of experience as a CT technologist in Tucson, Kathy understands the feelings of a patient preparing for a CT scan. She takes a bit of extra time to explain the CT procedure and makes sure that the patient is comfortable, speaking calmly throughout the CT scan with words of encouragement and praise. She instills confidence in the patient that the CT exam is being properly performed. It is this extra special attention to our CT patients that sets Radiology Ltd. apart from our competitors.
Screening Lung CT uses low-dose X-ray pictures taken from multiple different angles around the body to create cross-sectional images that appear as “slices” of the lungs and surrounding structures. The examination can detect small lung cancers before they are visible on a regular chest X-ray, increasing treatment options and survival rates.
Based on results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), new national guidelines recommend an annual Screening Lung CT for:
• Smokers aged 55 to 77 years who have smoked for 30 pack-years or more (Pack-year smoking history is calculated by multiplying the number of years you have smoked by the number of packs you smoke a day).
• Ex-smokers aged 55 to 77 years who quit smoking less than 15 years ago with a smoking history of 30 pack-years or more.
Lung cancer is responsible for 1 of every 3 cancer deaths and is the most common cause of cancer death in most populations. LDCT screening can detect many small lung cancers before they are visible on a regular chest X-ray, increasing treatment options and survival rates. A major study called the National Lung Screening Trail (NLST) recently showed a clear benefit for Low-Dose Chest CT (LDCT) Lung Cancer Screening among heavy smokers who meet strict criteria. LDCT screening of this high risk group of asymptomatic people resulted in a 20% reduction in death from lung cancer compared to people in a similar group who were screened with annual chest X-rays only.
After you arrive for your appointment, you will be escorted to a procedure room, where you will be asked to change into a patient gown. You should remove all jewelry and other removable items such as glasses, dentures, and hearing aids. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire. Women should always inform their technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.
During the exam you will lie on a table that moves into the doughnut-shaped scanner. Your technologist will watch you through an observation window and will be able to communicate with you at all times. CT scans are non-invasive and painless, though you will hear humming, buzzing, or clicking sounds as the CT machine moves to position you. You will be asked to place your arms above your head and will be asked to hold your breath briefly while the images are being taken. It is very important to follow all instructions and remain still during scanning in order to obtain clear images. The entire procedure normally takes about 5-10 minutes, and you will be able to resume your normal activities after the exam.
For your safety and the protection of others, we do not allow anybody except patients in our exam rooms.
You will be asked not to eat for 2 hours prior to the procedure.
Although the benefits far out way the risks, there can be non-cancerous LDCT scan findings, called false positive results, that can lead to additional cost, radiation exposure, and anxiety. LDCT does not require intravenous contrast injections.
By finding a lung cancer with a screening CT scan when the cancer is small, more effective and potentially curable treatment options become available. In a high number of cases (40%), an abnormality on the screening LDCT study will require follow-up imaging tests, often additional CT scans, to ensure that there is no evidence of interval growth of the abnormality, thus confirming a benign (non-cancerous) finding. Rarely, a lung biopsy might be required to exclude lung cancer.
LDCT screening uses a low radiation dose CT technique. The radiation dose received is equivalent to approximately half of the naturally occurring background radiation a person living at sea level receives in one year.
As of February, 2015, Medicare will cover LDCT Lung Cancer Screening for beneficiaries who meet the eligibility criteria. Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), private insurance companies are now also required to cover this test without a co-pay for patients who also meet the eligibility criteria. If the CT scan detects an abnormality that requires further imaging tests or interventions, these additional procedures are often covered by most insurance plans.
Once an individual decides to participate in our CT Lung Cancer Screening Program, their screening appointments will be coordinated by our staff to ensure appropriate follow-up and patient convenience.
After your study, the images will be evaluated by one of our board-certified radiologists with expertise in CT lung imaging. A final report will be sent to your doctor or healthcare provider, who can then discuss the results with you in detail.