Center for Cancer Care
St. Luke's Lung Cancer Screening Program
The best policy is to not smoke.
But, if you do or have in the past and you're high-risk, this screening can save your life.
Why Early Detection Is Important
According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States and the five-year survival rate for lung cancer patients is only 15 percent. Recent research has found that a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan can detect lung cancer in high-risk individuals who do not have symptoms. Improved detection of lung cancer at earlier stages, when the lung cancer is much more easily treated, is the key to improved survival. Screening has been shown to reduce deaths from lung cancer by 20 percent and has also reduced overall death by 27 percent.
How the Screening Works
Unlike a chest x-ray which produces flat, two-dimensional images of the lungs, a non-invasive CT scan is able to produce a three-dimensional image of the lungs, giving a more detailed report about the volume and shape of lung abnormalities. These nodules, or masses of tissue, are actually quite common and are usually non-cancerous. By using the CT scan, our team will be able to detect the size and shape of any suspected lung nodules and their likelihood to be cancerous. This test is not a substitute for tobacco cessation programs.
Who Should Consider Having the Screening
Publications in major medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine, have validated lung cancer screenings for high-risk individuals. In addition, specialty physician and medical organizations (American College of Chest Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network) are recommending this test for high-risk individuals as well.
High Risk Individuals
If you are in this group, you are at the highest risk for lung cancer and screening may be an option for you.
- Current or former smokers between the ages of 55 and 79 years
- A smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (meaning one pack a day for 30 years; 2 packs a day for 15 years; etc.)
- No history of lung cancer
Patients may call Radiology Scheduling at 314-205-6565 to schedule an appointment. Physician referral is not required.
The Appointment Process
Although actual scan time is about ten to fifteen minutes, patients should allow one hour for their appointment. If the patient shows the presence of nodules, they will be referred back to their primary care physician for further testing and consultation. If the patient does not have a physician, St. Luke's Physician Referral Service can connect you to one.
The screening costs $250 and is not currently covered by insurance. Payment is due at time of service.
Low-dose screening CT exams contain ionizing radiation which can, in theory, be harmful to the patient. The amount of radiation from a typical lung cancer screening test is less than one-third of the amount of radiation that the average U.S. citizen experiences in one year. It is similar to having 20 chest x-rays. Often, there are small "spots" (nodules) seen on a screening CT test that require CT follow-up. In most cases: 1) these do not represent lung cancer; 2) insurance and Medicare will cover the cost of these limited CT examinations.