Lung Cancer Screening

Know Your Risk Factors

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer kills more Americans each year than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined, accounting for approximately 27 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better a person’s chance of recovery and remission. This was confirmed in a large clinical trial published in June of 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The trial found that lung cancer screenings using low-dose CT scans resulted in a 20 percent relative risk reduction compared to conventional chest X-rays. One death from lung cancer was prevented for every 320 participants screened.

This encouraging finding has led to the establishment of screening guidelines for lung cancer. To help protect the health of our community’s current and former smokers, MarinHealth℠ has adopted lung cancer screenings as our standard of care for all people considered to be at high risk for lung cancer. To be considered high risk, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 55 and 80
  • Be a current smoker or have quit within the past 15 years
  • Have smoked at least 30 “pack years”
    Multiply the number of years you smoked by the number of packs a day. For example, a person who smoked a pack a day for 30 years (1x30) has 30 pack years, but so does someone who smoked two packs a day for 15 years (2x15).

Our Screening Process

Before you can participate in our screening program, you must obtain a referral from your healthcare provider. Once we hear from them, our staff will review your eligibility and schedule your CT scan. If your scan comes back normal, we usually recommend a repeat scan in one year, provided you still meet the criteria. If the scan shows any abnormalities, we’ll give you and your doctor specific recommendations for follow-up care.

Is Screening Covered by Insurance?

As long as you meet the criteria, lung cancer screening is a covered benefit through most insurance providers. To find out about your screening eligibility and to obtain a referral, please talk to your healthcare provider.

Are There Risks Associated with Screening?

If you’re concerned about radiation exposure from the CT scan, you should know that the non-contrast, low-dose scan follows recommended guidelines. The amount of radiation dose delivered is roughly the same amount of radiation you might receive if you lived by the ocean for a few months.

Do I Need to Do Anything to Prepare for My Screening?

No special preparations, such as injections or contrast dyes, are needed prior to or during your screening. To find out about your eligibility and obtain a referral, please talk to your healthcare provider.

Smoking Cessation Resources

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease and premature death in America. Giving up tobacco is the most important thing you can do for your health and well-being—and for the people you love.