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Lung cancer screenings

A low-dose CT scan for lung cancer is a specialized medical imaging procedure designed to detect early signs of lung cancer, primarily in individuals at high risk for the disease. What sets LDCT apart is its use of a reduced level of radiation compared to standard CT scans, making it a safer option for repeated screenings.

What are the risk factors for lung cancer?

  • Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smokers are at the highest risk, with the risk increasing the longer a person smokes and the number of cigarettes smoked.

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of lung cancer, especially for non-smokers who live or work with smokers.

  • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes and buildings. Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is a significant risk factor for lung cancer.

  • Certain occupations, such as asbestos mining, construction, and industrial work, involve exposure to carcinogens like asbestos, arsenic, and diesel exhaust, which can raise the risk of lung cancer.

  • A family history of lung cancer may increase an individual's susceptibility to the disease, suggesting a genetic predisposition.

  • Individuals with a history of lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Benefits of screening for lung cancer

  • Low-dose CT scans can detect lung cancer at an early stage when it's more treatable, increasing the chances of successful treatment.

  • Compared to traditional CT scans, low-dose CT scans expose patients to lower levels of radiation, reducing potential health risks.

  • Low-dose CT scans are used as a screening tool for individuals at high risk of lung cancer, helping health care professionals follow specific screening guidelines.

  • Early detection through low-dose CT scans can lead to better survival rates and improved quality of life for lung cancer patients.

  • The procedure is non-invasive and relatively quick, causing minimal discomfort to patients.

Schedule a cancer screening today.

With locations across Greater Sacramento, a Dignity Health Advanced Imaging location is just right around the corner. Call our centralized scheduling department to schedule an appointment today.

Preparing for a low-dose CT scan for lung cancer

What is the screening process for lung cancer like?

The screening process for lung cancer typically involves the following steps:

  • Eligibility assessment: Before undergoing a lung cancer screening, individuals are assessed for eligibility. Screening is usually recommended for those at high risk, such as long-term smokers or individuals with a family history of lung cancer.

  • Discussion with your health care physician: Patients should have a discussion with their health care physician about the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening. This discussion helps individuals make an informed decision about whether to proceed with screening.

  • Low-dose CT scan: The primary screening tool for lung cancer is a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan. This imaging test uses X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of the lungs. It is a quick and painless procedure.

  • Results: After the scan, a radiologist reviews the images to check for any abnormalities or signs of lung cancer. The results are typically provided to the patient and their health care physician. From there, you and your care team will determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.


Frequently asked low-dose CT scan questions

Coverage varies by insurance provider and individual circumstances. Medicare and some private insurers may cover the cost for eligible individuals. Unsure whether your health insurance is accepted at Dignity Health offices? Find a full list of accepted insurances here.

Screening frequency depends on your risk factors and age. Typically, it's recommended annually for eligible individuals.

If an abnormality is detected, further diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy or additional imaging, may be recommended to determine whether it is cancerous or benign.

Care where you want it

You don’t have to look far for a team of specialists dedicated to helping you get back to the things you love. Our Dignity Health Advanced Imaging Group physicians are here to lend a helping hand.