Tests and Procedures

Lung cancer screening

How you prepare

To prepare for an LDCT scan, you may need to:

  • Inform your doctor if you have a respiratory tract infection. If you currently have signs and symptoms of a respiratory tract infection or if you recently recovered from an infection, your doctor may recommend delaying your screening until one month after your signs and symptoms go away. Respiratory infections can cause abnormalities on CT scans that might require additional scans or tests to investigate. These additional tests can be avoided by waiting for the infection to resolve.
  • Remove any metal you're wearing. Metals can interfere with the imaging, so you may be asked to remove any metal that you might be wearing, such as jewelry, glasses, hearing aids and dentures.

    Wear clothes that don't have metal buttons or snaps. Don't wear an underwire bra. If your clothing has too much metal, you may be asked to change into a gown.

Check with your insurance company

In the United States, health insurance companies typically cover lung cancer screening for those who meet the guidelines specified by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. These guidelines recommend annual screening beginning at age 55 for people with a 30 pack year history of smoking. They recommend continuing annual screening until age 80 or until you develop serious health conditions that limit the benefit of screening. Check with your health insurance provider to be sure lung cancer screening is covered under your plan.

For people on Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services covers lung cancer screening for people 55 to 77 with a 30 pack year history of smoking who are either current smokers or who have quit smoking in the last 15 years.