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Listen to Dr. Jo-Anne Shepard's public service announcement about lung cancer screening.
FAQ for patients
FAQ for physicians
Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging uses low-dose CT scans (LDCT) to screen for lung cancer among patients who meet the recommended criteria. LDCT is available on our main campus in Boston and at our imaging locations in Waltham, Chelsea and Danvers.
All images are read by dedicated thoracic radiologists who specialize in the detection and management of lung nodules. They are part of a multidisciplinary team that offers subspecialty expertise in the detection and treatment of lung cancer.
Active smokers should enter a smoking cessation program. Screening is not an alternative to smoking cessation.
Read our FAQs to learn more about the risks associated with lung cancer screening, including incidental findings and radiation risk.
Small nodule discovered by CT in the left lung (A)enlarged on follow-up CT scan (B) and was found tobe an adenocarcinoma at surgery.
LDCT in Depth
On July 6, 2011, the New England Journal of Medicine published resultsfrom the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST)conducted by theNational Cancer Institute (NCI)and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN). This study, the only randomized control trial of lung cancer screening that has been completed, included more than 50,000 patients.
The results demonstrated a mortality benefit of 20% when LDCT is used to screen high-risk patients for early lung cancer. In other words, 20% fewer deaths were reported during the study among a group of patients who received LDCT scanning versus a control group of patients who did not.
In December 2013, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) finalized recommendations to screen high-risk patients for lung cancer with LDCT based on findings from the NLST. It is the only screening test for lung cancer recommended by the USPSTF. Read more
Find out the risks and benefits and what to expect at a lung screening exam.> Watch now
What should I expect BEFORE a LDCT?
There is no special preparation for a LDCT. You do not need to fast or get an injection.
If you have had a previous chest CT at another hospital, please notify your doctor and authorize Mass General to get a copy before you have a LDCT.
What will I experience DURING a LDCT?
What should I expect AFTER a LDCT?
You have no restrictions after having a scan and can go about your normal activities.
A thoracic radiologist will read your scan, using any of your prior scans for comparison, and send your doctor a report. Your doctor will notify you of the results and organize follow-up if needed.
Are you or someone you love eligible for lung screening?> Watch now
Patients who meet the following criteria are eligible for an annual low-dose CT scan (LDCT) to screen for lung cancer:
These criteria are recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force based on the findings of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), a large scientific study in which LDCT resulted in 20% fewer lung cancer deaths compared to screening with a standard chest X-ray.
This exam is available on our main campus in Boston and at our locations in Waltham, Chelsea and Danvers.
Low-dose CT (LDCT) to screen for lung cancer is covered by Medicare and private insurance plans for qualifying patients.
Lung cancer is cancer that usually starts in the lining of the bronchi (the main airways of the lungs), but can also begin in other areas of the respiratory system, including the trachea, bronchioles, or alveoli.
With implications for insurance coverage, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual low-dose CT scans to reduce lung cancer deaths.
Director of Thoracic Imaging and Intervention in the Mass General Department of Radiology, Dr. Jo-Anne Shepard explains what the recent lung cancer screening recommendations mean for patients.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends low-dose CT scans to screen high-risk patients for lung cancer.
Research shows a clear benefit for CT lung-cancer screening among individuals who meet strict criteria. Patients and referrers should understand both the benefit and the potential for false positive results.
The major benefit of screening is that lung cancer can be cured if it’s found before symptoms occur. Find out what happens before, during and after a lung screening exam.
Our program staff can provide more information about lung cancer screening at Mass General. Please note that we do not offer medical advice over the phone.
Lung cancer screening is available on our main campus in Boston and at our locations in Waltham, Chelsea and Danvers:
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