Key facts about lung cancer
- Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States, leading to more than 150,000 lung cancer deaths per year.
- Historically, by the time the majority of people (70%) have been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is in an advanced stage and the prognosis is poor.
Key facts about lung cancer screening
- Until recently, there has been no effective way to detect lung cancer early enough to prevent people from dying of lung cancer.
- This has now changed. A large national study has shown that screening for lung cancer using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), also known as a “CAT scan” of the chest, can reduce the risk of dying among current and former smokers, who are at high risk of lung cancer.
- For this reason, leading professional organizations have recommended annual LDCT screening for current and former smokers at high risk of lung cancer.
- LDCT screening is not recommended for people who have smoked for less than 30 pack-years, are younger than 55 or older than 80 years of age, have quit smoking more than 15 years ago, or are in poor health.
- A LDCT scan takes less than 4 minutes and involves no discomfort.
- However, LDCT is not for everyone; not everyone benefits from screening:
- Some patients end up with “false alarms”—findings that appear abnormal but are not, and that may result in anxiety and unnecessary testing and treatments that have their own risks.
- The LDCT scan, like all x-ray tests, involves a small amount of radiation exposure
- Whether you should be screened for lung cancer should be based on an informed and shared decision made with your health care provider.
Maine Medical Center has partnered with Chest Medicine Associates and Spectrum Medical Group to provide guidance and access to lung cancer screening for all people at high risk for lung cancer. The Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program provides the following services:
- Lung cancer risk evaluation
- Education and counseling about lung cancer screening and LDCT
- LDCT scan and interpretation
- Follow-up testing and treatment based on LDCT results
- Referral to smoking cessation counseling and treatment resources
These services are provided by a multi-specialty group of providers with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer: radiologists, pulmonologists, medical oncologists, thoracic surgeons, and radiation oncologists.
Is the LDCT scan covered by my insurance?
Insurance coverage for lung cancer screening withLDCT has only been approved by some insurance companies so far. For now, the Lung Cancer Screening Program is offering the LDCT lung scan at a reduced rate of $300, if your insurance company does not cover the cost of the test. This expense includes the cost of the CT scan, interpretation by a specialized radiologist and initial consult visit with a pulmonologist.
Please Note: Subsequent evaluation for abnormal scans and any additional testing are not free of charge and will be billed to you or your insurance.
Do I need a referral from my primary care provider (PCP)?
A referral by your PCP is not required for enrollment in the lung screening program. However, we urge all patients to discuss with their PCP whether lung cancer screening is right for them. All results of LDCT screening will be provided to your PCP.
How does the process work?
If you meet the criteria listed, above please call Chest Medicine Associates’ office Monday - Friday at 207-828-1122, Extension 108 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm to arrange an appointment. The Intake Specialist will validate that you meet the criteria and make an appointment with a pulmonologist who will counsel you on the risks versus benefits of lung cancer CT screening in order to ensure that you are making an informed decision regarding the screening process. After this consult has been completed, an appointment will be made with the Radiology Department at Maine Medical Center for your screening exam.
How will I be informed of the test results?
A follow up appointment will be scheduled at Chest Medicine Associates within 1-2 weeks of the scan to discuss test results. If your test result is completely normal, you may be notified by telephone.
For more information about the screening process: Please call Chest Medicine Associates at (207) 828-1122 or refer to their website. More information about lung cancer screening is also available from the following public and private national organizations.
Whether or not you choose to have a LDCT scan for lung cancer screening, the best thing you can do to lower your risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking.If you are considering stopping smoking, or if you’ve already made the decision to stop, here are resources that may be helpful.