Why Screen for Lung Cancer
Screening is the process of looking for a disease in people who don’t have symptoms of that disease. Common screening tests include mammography for breast cancer, Pap smear for cervical cancer, and PSA test and/or digital rectal exam for prostate cancer.
The goal of screening for lung cancer is to identify cancer at an early stage, when it is more likely to be curable. Published in 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial showed that using low-dose chest CT scans to screen people who are at high risk for lung cancer decreases the death rate from lung cancer by 20 percent. More recent trials conducted in Europe have demonstrated similar, and in some cases even more favorable, results.
As a result of this research, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and other expert groups recommend annual lung cancer screening for individuals considered to be at high risk. Lung cancer screening is a covered service for Medicare Beneficiaries aged 50-77, and is also covered under most private insurance for patients aged 50-80.
Why Choose Northwestern Medicine for Lung Cancer Screening
- Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine was the only site in the Chicagoland area to participate in the National Lung Screening Trial. This trial was the first, and remains the largest, randomized study ever to demonstrate that screening for lung cancer reduces lung cancer deaths. The Feinberg School of Medicine trial site was headed by Eric Hart, MD, associate professor of radiology in the Thoracic Imaging Division.
- Many Northwestern Medicine facilities are American College of Radiology (ACR) Designated Lung Cancer Screening Centers. To earn this designation, sites must demonstrate that they provide high-quality, low-dose CT screening for early detection of lung cancer.
- Many Northwestern Medicine facilities have also been awarded the Screening Center of Excellence designation by the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. This designation recognizes medical facilities that provide patient-centered care and responsible, high-quality, low-dose CT screening for early detection of lung cancer. These centers also must comply with comprehensive standards based on best practices.
Patient Education and Resources
- Calculating smoking in pack-years
- Lung Nodule and Lung Cancer Screening Information Guide
- National Lung Screening Trial: Questions and Answers
- Smoking cessation resources:
- Guia informativa sobre prueba de deteccion de cancer de pulmon y nodulos pulmonares
- Low Dose CT Scan Brochure