About Lung Cancer Screening

Lung cancer screening helps find lung cancer early, when it is easier to treat. The screening test for lung cancer is called a low-dose CT scan. Low-dose CT scan has been shown to lower the risk of dying from lung cancer in heavy smokers.

What Is a Low-Dose CT Scan?

A low-dose CT scan is an X-ray machine that uses low doses of radiation to create detailed pictures of your lungs. The pictures provide a 3D view of the lungs. The images are very detailed and can show early-stage lung cancers that may be too small to see on a traditional X-ray.  

Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

How often do I need a low-dose CT scan?

Huntsman Cancer Institute and University of Utah Health recommend you get lung cancer screening (low-dose CT scan) every year if you:

  • Are 50 years old or older, AND
  • You smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, AND
  • You have a history of heavy smoking (for example, an average of one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years).

Talk to your doctor about the risk and benefits of lung cancer screening.

What to Expect During a Low-Dose CT Scan

A low-dose CT scan is a quick and painless scan of your lungs. It does not use injections or dyes.

When you arrive, you may be asked to change into an exam gown. During the scan, you will lie on your back on a table. The table rolls into a machine shaped like a donut. You will still be able to hear and see outside the machine at all times during the scan. The technician takes x-rays images of your lungs.

It is important that you stay very still. You will be asked to hold your breath a few times to make sure the images don’t blur. The scan itself only takes a few minutes. 

Low-Dose CT Scan Results

Radiologists, who are experts in lung imaging, will look at the images and results will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you and discuss next steps.

Specialists reading a lung cancer screening at Huntsman Cancer Institute

Prevent Lung Cancer

Lung cancer can be caused by many risk factors other than smoking cigarettes:

The good news is you can prevent lung cancer. Learn more about lung cancer prevention.

Lung cancer is currently the second most common cancer for both men and women. It is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.