Lung Cancer Screening

Overview of lung cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in this country, claiming more lives each year than colon, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers combined. But getting screened for lung cancer can actually save your life. Research shows low-dose CT (computed tomography) screening may detect lung cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. When it’s found early, lung cancer has cure rates of up to 92 percent. 

Our approach

Northwell Health Imaging combines the skill of fellowship-trained radiology chest subspecialists with the most advanced imaging techniques. Lung cancer screening uses CT with reduced radiation to identify lung nodules, some of which may be cancerous.

About lung cancer screening

Instead of taking one picture, like a traditional X-ray, a CT scanner takes many images as it rotates around you while you lie on a table. A computer then combines these images for a detailed view of the part of your body being studied.

For low-dose CT screening, you lie flat on the exam table. A pillow is provided for your comfort. Usually, you’re asked to hold your arms over your head. The CT table moves through the scanner to the correct starting position for the scans. Then, while you hold your breath for five to ten seconds, the CT table moves through the machine as the actual CT scan is completed. A CT scan is completely painless.

Benefits and risks of lung cancer screening

Screening can help find lung cancer at an early, easier-to-treat stage. CT (or CAT, computed axial tomography) scans are more likely to show lung tumors than routine chest X-rays. A low-dose CT scan also can provide precise information about the size, shape and position of lung tumors and can help find enlarged lymph nodes that might contain cancer that has spread from the lung.

While it’s not right for everyone, you may qualify for annual lung cancer screening if you:

  • Are 55-80 years of age
  • Have a 30 pack-year history of smoking (this means 1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
  • Are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years

Note: As of February 2015, high-risk individuals insured by Medicare will have screening covered through age 77.

Is a lung cancer screening right for me?

Age criteria vary and should be verified with your health insurer. If you believe you’re qualified and would like to be screened, speak to your doctor to be sure you meet eligibility requirements and understand details of the screening program and potential risks.

If you’re a current smoker, you will be counseled to quit and will be offered the opportunity to join the Center for Tobacco Control’s smoking cessation program through Northwell Health.

What happens after my scan?

If your scan shows a lung nodule, your doctor may recommend a short term follow-up CT scan  to check that the nodule hasn’t grown. In the unlikely case that it does grow, or is otherwise concerning, your doctor may recommend further testing using a PET/CT scan or a biopsy (removal of nodule tissue to be examined by a pathologist).

However, since more than 95 percent of lung nodules are not cancerous, you probably will be asked to return in 12 months to continue the screening process. Remember, lung cancer screening is not a single test; it is a process that must be done correctly under the direction of your doctor(s).

Lung cancer screening locations and accreditations

We offer low-dose CT lung cancer screening at a variety of convenient locations Monday through Saturday, with early morning and evening appointments available.

The following hospitals offer lung cancer screening. Please contact the location closest to you for an appointment. 

Northwell Health Imaging facilities are conveniently located throughout Long Island. To schedule an appointment at any of these locations, call (855) 377-3456.

All listed imaging facilities are divisions of North Shore University Hospital. We’re accredited by the American College of Radiology as Diagnostic Imaging Centers of Excellence and designated as Lung Cancer Screening Centers. The Lung Cancer Alliance has named our facilities Screening Centers of Excellence.