Health Library

Low-dose Lung CT Screening

An introduction to Low-dose Lung CT screening

Officially called a low-dose computerized tomography (LDCT) this procedure involves the scanning of the lungs to examine the presence of lung cancer. Oftentimes, when lung cancer symptoms and signs develop, the cancer is typically too advanced for remedial treatment. A low-dose lung CT screening helps to detect lung cancer at an early stage, allowing for prompt treatment. Studies show low-dose CT lung cancer screening decreases the risk of casualty due to lung cancer.

Why choose to undergo Low-dose Lung CT screening

The low-dose lung CT screening is a newer form of CT scan that may help those who have the highest risk for lung cancer. These are generally people 55 and older who are or were heavy smokers. For people who aren’t at increased risk, screening for lung cancer probably isn’t necessary. Talk to your doctor and weigh the pros and cons of this test to decide whether it is right for you.

How is Low-dose Lung CT screening performed?

Low-dose lung CT screening is a quick, painless, and non-invasive method to screen for lung cancer. There are no injections or dyes and requires nothing to swallow by mouth. During the test, the scanner continuously rotates in a spiral motion and takes many 3-dimensional X-rays of the lungs. A computer then combines these images into a comprehensive picture of your lungs that can display early-stage lung cancers that might be too small to be spotted by a traditional X-ray.

Low-dose Lung CT screening details (before/during/after)

Typically, there are no special preparations needed for a low-dose CT lung scan.

During the scan, the patient will wear the provided exam gown and will be asked to lie on their back on the table of the CT machine. The table gradually passes through the center of the CT machine while comprehensive X-ray images are taken of the lungs. The patient is often asked to hold their breath for a few seconds to reduce the chance of blurring. The entire process takes less than a minute and is not painful.

After the scan, most patients return to their activities as usual without any side effects.

Results and follow-up (if applicable)

The results of a low-dose lung CT scan are usually available within a week and a follow-up appointment is often scheduled with you by your doctor to discuss the outcomes of the scan in person. If common abnormalities are found, these are usually noncancerous and harmless, however, if the test reveals something abnormal, your doctor will recommend the next steps in the process, including more diagnostic tests and/or repeat imaging.

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