10 things to know about lung cancer screenings

oughly 70 percent of lung cancer results from smoking; the other 30 percent has no identifiable cause. At Houston Methodist, the lung cancer screening program helps individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer receive a diagnosis and treatment plan at an early stage, when the disease is easier to treat and possibly cure.

I sat down with Dr. Reggie Munden, chair of the radiology department at Houston Methodist Hospital, and discussed 10 things people should know about the importance of lung cancer screenings.

1. Lung cancer screenings with computed tomography (CT) works and saves lives.

2. Screening benefits 55-74 year old current and former heavy smokers. For instance, one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years. 

3. A positive finding does not mean you have cancer, it means there are findings that could be cancerous and further testing will be needed.

4. The CT examination may detect significant diseases other than lung cancer.

5.  It is important to be screened at a facility with lung cancer screening experts.

70% of lung cancer results from smoking; the other 30% has no identifiable cause Click To Tweet

6. During the screening, the patient will undergo a low-dose, single-breath-hold CT scan of your lungs. The entire examination takes only a few seconds. Afterward, the radiologist reviews the images and issues a report of the findings. 

7. Findings on lung cancer CTs can range from no disease to findings very concerning for cancer. Based on previously published studies, more than 95 percent of the initially suspicious nodules identified within the lung are diagnosed as non-cancerous. 

8. The diagnosis of cancer is not made from the screening CT, but determined after further work up and usually requires a biopsy to confirm. 

9. The biggest determinants for lung cancer are age and long term-smoking. While some lung cancers are not related to cigarette smoking, there is no benefit to screening non-smokers for lung cancer. In fact, it is possible that screening people other than smokers could be more harmful than not screening. 

10. As of November 2014, lung cancer screening is covered by some insurance plans. Medicare announced plans to begin coverage for lung cancer screening for participants 65 years or older.

Our program provides a full service, multidisciplinary approach to lung cancer screening. This is important because screening CTs detect many significant diseases other than lung cancer and our center will be able to manage the whole patient. To get more info about lung cancer screenings at Houston Methodist, call 713.441.5864.