Lung Cancer Screening with Low-Dose CT FAQ

Yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose CT, or LDCT, has been shown to save lives by finding lung cancer early, when it is easier to treat. The goal of LDCT lung screening is to detect lung cancer earlier. Without LDCT lung screening, lung cancer is usually not found until a person develops symptoms. At that time, the cancer is much harder to treat.

Click on questions below to reveal answers.

Q: Who should get an LDCT lung screening exam?

LDCT lung screening is recommended for people who are at high risk for lung cancer. Screening before symptoms appear may lower risk by as much as 20 percent. Those who have symptoms of a lung condition at the time of screening, such as a new cough or shortness of breath, are not eligible. They should see a physician immediately. People ages 55-77 who have smoked at least an average of one pack a day for 30 years. This includes people who still smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Q: Why does it matter if I have symptoms?

Certain symptoms can be a sign that you have a condition in your lungs that should be evaluated and treated, if necessary, by your healthcare provider. These symptoms include fever, chest pain, a new or changing cough, shortness of breath that you have never felt before, coughing up blood or unexplained weight loss. If you have any of these symptoms, see your physician immediately.

Q: If I meet the criteria for being high-risk but have been diagnosed with cancer in the past, is LDCT lung screening appropriate for me?

It depends. In some cases, LDCT lung screening will not be appropriate, such as when your physician is already following your cancer with CT scan studies. Your physician will help determine if LDCT lung screening is right for you.

Q: Do I need to have an LDCT lung screening exam every year?

Yes. If you are in one of the high-risk groups, an LDCT lung screening exam is recommended every year until you are 77 years old.

Q: How effective is LDCT lung screening at preventing death from lung cancer?

Studies have shown that when compared to single-view chest X-ray screening, LDCT lung screening can lower the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent in people who are at risk.

Q: How is the exam performed?

LDCT lung screening is one of the easiest screening exams you can have. The exam takes less than 10 minutes. No medications are given, and no needles are used. You can eat before and after the exam. You do not even need to change clothes as long as the clothing on your chest does not contain metal. You must, however, be able to hold your breath for at least six seconds while the chest scan is taken.

Q: Are there any risks to LDCT lung screening?

There are several risks and limitations to LDCT lung screening. We want to make sure we have done a good job explaining these to you, so please let us know if you have any questions. A complete list of risks is included on the consent form. Your healthcare provider who ordered the screening may want to talk with you more about the risks listed below.

Radiation exposure: LDCT lung screening uses radiation to create images of your lung. Radiation can increase a person's risk of cancer. By using special techniques, the amount of radiation in LDCT lung screening is small – about the normal amount received from the sun in a year. Further, your physician has determined the benefits of the screening outweigh the risks of being exposed to the small amount of radiation from this exam.

False negatives:  No test, including the LDCT lung screening, is perfect. It is possible that you may have a medical condition, including lung cancer, that is not found during your exam. This is called a false negative.

False positives/additional testing: LDCT lung screening often finds something in the lung that could be cancer but in fact is not. This is called a false positive and can cause anxiety. To make sure these findings are not cancer, you may need to have more tests. These tests will be performed only if you give us permission. Occasionally, patients need a procedure, such as a biopsy, that can have potential side effects. For more information on false positives, see "What can I expect from the results?"

Findings not related to lung cancer: Your LDCT lung screening exam also captures images of areas of your body next to your lungs. In a small percentage of cases, 5-10 percent, the CT scan will show an abnormal finding in one of these areas, such as your kidneys, adrenal glands, liver, heart vessels or thyroid. This finding may not be serious, but you may need to be examined further. Your healthcare provider who ordered your exam can help determine what, if any, additional testing you need.

Q: How much does the screening cost?

We will bill your insurance provider. If not covered, you will be charged $240, which includes delivery of the results by a nurse navigator to you and your primary care physician. Any additional testing you may need, based on the results from the screening, will be billed to your insurance. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of these additional tests. If you need help understanding your insurance coverage, please contact one of our patient financial counselors at 913-588-5866. If you do not have insurance, you will need to cover the cost..

Q: What can I expect from the results?

About one of four LDCT lung screenings will find something in the lung that may require additional imaging or evaluation. Most of the time these findings are lung nodules. Lung nodules are very small collections of tissue in the lung. These nodules are very common, and the vast majority of them – more than 97 percent – are not cancer. Most are normal lymph nodes or small areas of scarring from past infections.

Less commonly, lung nodules are cancer. If a small lung nodule is found to be cancer, the cancer can be cured more than 90 percent of the time. That is why we are screening you.

To distinguish the large number of benign, noncancerous nodules from the few nodules that are, in fact, cancer, we may need to get more images or other tests before your next yearly screening exam. If the nodule has suspicious features, such as a large size, an odd shape or growth over time, we will refer you to a specialist for further testing.

Q: When will I get the results?

Typically, the results of your screening CT are available within 24 hours. A nurse navigator will contact you to review your results and discuss the recommended follow-up. If you have additional questions, call 913-588-1227 or toll free 844-323-1227.

Q: Will my physician also receive the results?

Yes. Your healthcare provider who ordered your exam will receive a copy of your results.

Q: What should I do if I think I qualify for LDCT lung screening?

Call 913-588-1227 or 844-323-1227 to see if you qualify and to schedule your screening. An order from your physician for a LDCT lung screening is required. Our nurse navigator can assist in obtaining the order.

Call 913-588-1227 or 844-323-1227 to see if you qualify and to schedule your screening. An order from your physician for a LDCT lung screening is required. Our nurse navigator can assist in obtaining the order.

For more information:

  • 913-588-1227
  • 844-323-1227

Lung Cancer Screening Location

The University of Kansas Hospital – Indian Creek Campus
10720 Nall Ave.
Overland Park, KS 66211

General driving directions from I-435
Take Nall Avenue exit from I-435. Go north to 107th Street. Turn left (west) and proceed approximately 1/10 of a mile. Turn left (south) into the Indian Creek Campus. At stop sign, turn left. Then take the second right (this will be the right turn after the second speed bump). The University of Kansas Hospital – Indian Creek Campus will be on the right.