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Screening for Lung Cancer

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The American Lung Association and American Cancer Society both suggest that if you meet the following criteria, you may want to consider screening:

  • You are a current or former smoker who quit within the last 15 years
  • You are 55-74 years old
  • You have a history of heavy smoking (such as one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years)

If you meet these criteria, a low-dose CT scan should be used for screening. A CT scan is a series of x-rays put together by a computer to create images of the lung. This test may be able to identify smaller tumors better than a chest x-ray can.

Revision Information

  • Can non-small cell lung cancer be found early? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/LungCancer-Non-SmallCell/DetailedGuide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-detection. February 17, 2012. Accessed May 14, 2012.

  • Learn about cancer—non-small cell. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/lrn/lrn%5F0.asp. Accessed October 7, 2008.

  • Learn about cancer—small cell. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/lrn/lrn%5F0.asp. Accessed October 7, 2008.

  • Lung cancer. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/. Accessed October 7, 2008.

  • Lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated October 2008. Accessed October 7, 2008.

  • Lung cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung . Accessed October 7, 2008.

  • Lung cancer CT screening: is it right for me? American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/lung-cancer/lung-cancer-screening-guidelines/lung-cancer-screening-for-patients.pdf . Accessed May 10, 2012.

  • Non-small cell lung cancer: screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 3, 2011. Accessed March 17, 2011.

  • 10/1/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Manser R, Irving L, et al. Screening for lung cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD001991.

  • 11/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: National Cancer Institute. Lung cancer trial results show mortality benefit with low-dose CT. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/NLSTresultsRelease. Accessed November 12, 2010.

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