About LDCT Screening

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About LDCT Screening

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A low-dose CT scan is a regular preventative health check – much like a colonoscopy or mammogram – and it’s currently the only method recommended for lung cancer screening in high-risk patients.

Because lung cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms until later in its progression, greater than 50% of patients are already in advanced stages at the time of diagnosis. However, in the landmark National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), 70% of patients who received annual LDCT screenings were diagnosed in the early stages, when the disease is far more manageable.*

Annual LDCT screening is recommended by many groups, including the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society. It is covered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as many health insurance companies for qualified patients.

Low-dose CT screening:

  • Is 20% more effective at reducing mortality rate vs. chest X-ray (NLST)*
  • Can double (via early detection) the relative 5-year survival rate compared to late-stage diagnoses*
  • Prevents one lung cancer death per 320 screenings*
  • Uses 75% less radiation than a regular CT scan*

What are the risks?

More often than not, the early-detection benefits of an LDCT scan far outweigh the risks, but there are a few things both doctor and patient should consider before proceeding with the test.

False-positive results suggest that a person has lung cancer when no cancer is present. These results can lead to follow-up tests and surgeries that are not needed and may have additional risks.*

Overdiagnosis happens when the scan finds cases of cancer that may never have caused a problem for the patient, leading to treatment that is not needed.*

Radiation from repeated screening can cause cancer in otherwise healthy people, although it is important to note that LDCT uses less radiation and is considerably safer than a regular CT scan.**

*The Lung Cancer Project
**Centers for Disease Control and Prevention