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Scheduled for a Lung Cancer Screening? What to Know Before You Go

  • Category: Cancer
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Scheduled for a Lung Cancer Screening? What to Know Before You Go

If you’re between 50-77 years old and currently smoke, or quit smoking in the past 15 years, you could benefit from regular low-dose CT scans to monitor for lung cancer. This quick, non-invasive test is recommended on an annual basis for those who meet the screening criteria, allowing doctors to detect and monitor changes in your lungs over time. Lung cancer screening improves your chance of detecting lung cancer in the early stages, before symptoms show up.

CT scans are used for a host of reasons, giving doctors a detailed image of any part of the body. The low-dose CT scan has a low radiation exposure risk, a little higher than the amount of radiation from a mammogram.

Here are the key things to know before you head to your low-dose CT scan:

  • Tell your doctor ahead of time if you have a respiratory infection at the time of your scheduled scan, as that could affect the results. Rescheduling is the best option.
  • You should be able to stay in your regular clothes, though women would need to remove a bra with wire in it. If your clothing has a lot of metal, like several buttons, you might be asked to wear a provided gown.
  • Make sure not to have any metal on -- jewelry, watches, etc.
  • You’ll lie very still on a table that slides in and out while the machine takes multiple images of the lungs
  • The scan takes a few minutes
  • It’s painless and doesn’t require any injections

After the scan, you may be scheduled to return annually, or if there is a finding or an area of concern, your care team may recommend additional imaging or tests. Having “spots” or nodules are common, and most are benign (not cancer). But, to make sure it is not an early cancer you may be asked to return on a closer timeframe for diagnostic imaging or additional testing.

Health insurance companies typically cover lung cancer screening for those who meet the high-risk criteria, but it’s best to call and check on your particular plan.

If you have questions about lung cancer screening contact our Patient Navigator at 225-237-1600, or speak to your healthcare provider to decide if lung Cancer screening is right for you.