For more patient information on CT Lung Cancer screening
What is CT lung cancer screening?
People who smoke or have smoked in the past are at risk for developing lung cancer. There is no way to predict who will develop lung cancer and traditionally tests are done only if you develop symptoms such as a cough, difficulty breathing or coughing up blood.
MIC offers lung cancer screening using low-dose Computed Tomography (CT) to produce very detailed images of the lungs. These images can help our radiologists find lung cancer in the early stages when it is easier to treat and patients have a better chance of living longer.
The benefits of CT lung cancer screening are strongest if you:
- Are between 55 and 74 years of age and
- Smoked at least 30 ‘pack years’ – one pack/day for 30 years or two packs/day for 15 years and
- Are a smoker or quit smoking within the last 15 years.
Most of these examinations will be normal. Larger nodules found in a CT scan may need further investigation and in some of these cases, other tests may be necessary to determine whether the nodules are cancerous or benign.
This screening is not recommended if you have been treated for lung cancer. If you are experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing up blood, talk to your healthcare practitioner as you may need a different type of test.
It is important to continue with CT lung cancer screening at regular intervals. Current medical evidence and guidelines recommend yearly screening with low dose CT if you meet the criteria above. MIC radiologists have been part of the Alberta Lung Cancer Screening Study since 2015 and have vital experience in interpreting CT lung cancer studies.
Talk to your healthcare practitioner to see if CT lung cancer screening is right for you.
Is there a cost?
Yes. In Alberta, CT lung cancer screening is a patient-pay service. The cost may be reimbursable under certain extended health benefit plans or health spending accounts.
What to expect
- The technologist will position you on the examination table, usually lying flat on your back.
- You will usually be asked to raise your arms over your head.
- Next, the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans.
- Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the actual CT scanning is performed while you hold your breath for the short 5 to 10 second scan.
- The radiologist will review all of the scans and send a detailed report to your practitioner, usually within 24 hours.