Startling as the facts may be, only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed at their earliest, most curable stages. However, if caught early, patients can increase their treatment options, outcome and survival rate. Recent efforts from the National Cancer Institute aim to change survival rates. Their eight year trial, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), of 53,000 smokers and ex-smokers has shown that using CT for screening of lung cancer instead of a chest X-ray has reduced cancer deaths from lung cancer by 20% over just five years.
Patients to benefit from screening LDCT for Lung Cancer (High Risk Patients)
- Age 55-77 years old with greater than or equal to 30 pack year history of smoking and if former smoker with a smoking cessation of less than 15 years
- Age greater than or equal to 50 with a greater than or equal to 20 pack year history of smoking plus one additional risk factor
Beneficiary eligibility criteria (All of the following criteria must be met)
- Age 55 – 77 years old
- Asymptomatic (no signs of symptoms of lung cancer)
- Tobacco smoking history of at least 30 pack years
- (one pack year = smoking one pack per day for one year; 1 pack = 20 cigarettes)
- Current smoker or one who has quit smoking within the last 15 years
- Receives a written order for LDCT lung cancer screening
SJIA will bill the patient’s insurance. However, if their insurance does not cover the exam, the payment will be the patient’s responsibility. Medicare will cover annual screenings for those that meet the criteria. If there are abnormal findings on the initial exam, and follow up procedures are required, they will need to be approved by the patient’s insurer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between LDCT and a regular CT of the chest? LDCT significantly reduces the radiation exposure to the patient compared to a standard CT
Why don’t I always get LDCT? Although the radiation dose is reduced, the image quality is slightly inferior to a standard CT. The image quality is adequate for the purpose of screening for lung cancer but not as good for other diseases of the chest
Do I need to get contrast through an IV in my arm? NO
How long does this test take? 10 minutes
If the results state that there are abnormal findings on my exam does that mean I have lung cancer? One out of every three patients will likely have findings on the CT scan that may require additional follow up. The vast majority of these findings will not turn out to be cancer.
Who should I contact if I have any questions after the exam? Contact your primary physician. The complete report will be sent to the primary physician provided by you before the exam. The report will contain not only all the findings from the exam, but also recommendation for follow up. Your physician will need to be involved in ordering any additional tests.
How much does a LDCT cost? SJIA will bill the patient’s insurance. However, if their insurance does not cover the $500 exam, the payment will be the patient’s responsibility. Medicare will cover annual screenings for those that meet the criteria. If there are abnormal findings on the initial exam, and follow up procedures are required, they will need to be approved by the patient’s insurer.
For questions about LDCT or to schedule an exam: Call 315-452-2004.