Should I be screened for lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Lung cancer is frequently diagnosed after it has spread. The goal of lung cancer screening is to enable detection of lung cancer before it has spread. If the disease is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving 5 years improves from 11 percent to 55 percent.

Lung cancer symptoms are often subtle making it hard to catch. For people at high-risk, screening can catch lung cancer early when it’s easier to treat. CT scans could save more than 40,000 lives this year.

How do I know if I should be screened? 

  1. Are you between 55-80 years old?
  2. Do you have a 30 pack-year smoking history (i.e. 1 pack/daily for 30 years, 2 packs/daily for 15 years)​?
  3. Do you currently smoke or did you quit within the past 15 years?

If you answered “yes” to all three questions and are not experiencing lung cancer symptoms, you are eligible for screening. Please talk to your doctor.

A Breath of Hope Partners that provide preventative lung screening:

Allina Heath

CDI (Center for Diagnostic Imaging)

Frauenshuh Cancer Center

North Memorial

Park Nicollet

St. Paul Radiology

Suburban Imaging 

University of Minnesota: Masonic Cancer Center

It is our aim to be a resource for all lung cancer patients and their family members.  If your hospital or facility offers low-dose CT scans, with or without doctor referrals, please contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. Who should get screened?

A. Currently, screening is recommended for individuals at high-risk for lung cancer.  High risk is defined as:​

  • Being between 55-80 years old​
  • Currently smoke or quit within the past 15 years​
  • Having a 30 pack-year history (1 pack a day for 30 years; 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc)​

If you don’t meet the above criteria, but are having symptoms of lung cancer, you should consult with your healthcare professional about being tested.​

Q. How is lung cancer screening done? 

A. Lung cancer screening is done with a low dose CT scan. A low dose CT (computed tomography) scan is an x-ray that scans the lungs and uses low doses of radiation to make detailed pictures of the lungs.​

Q. Where do I go to get screened?

A. Start by talking to your healthcare provider.  He/she can order the scan for you and recommend a local facility.​

Q. Is screening dangerous? What are the risks?

A. All radiation involves some risk. You should discuss the risks with your healthcare professional.​

Q. Will my insurance cover screening?

A. Medicare with cover the costs of screening for those ages 55-77 who fit the eligibility criteria. Please consult with your insurance provider to find out if screening is covered as part of your plan.​

Q. How often should I get screened?

A. Lung cancer screening is recommended annually for those at high risk.​

​Q. What causes lung cancer?

A. The primary cause of lung cancer is smoking, but you don’t have to smoke to get lung cancer. Lung cancer can be caused by environmental factors like radon, pollution, secondhand smoke and industrial chemicals.​

Q. What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

A. Typical symptoms of lung cancer include persistent cough, coughing up blood or phlegm, chest pain, hoarseness, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, wheezing, ongoing bronchitis or pneumonia​

Q. Where can I learn more about lung cancer?

A. Coming in November – the first-of-its-kind Animated Lung Cancer Patient Program. Please check back.