Abnormal Results

My screening results were abnormal. What will happen next?

It is important to remember that about half of the people who get screened will have tiny pulmonary nodules, or bumps. Most of these are harmless and will simply be evaluated with the next annual screening scan.

About 5 out of every 100 scans will show a slightly larger nodule that will require follow-up in 3 or 6 months. If you are in this category, your letter will be very clear about when you should schedule your next scan.

If I have "abnormal" results, does this mean I have lung cancer?

Abnormal screening results don't automatically mean you have lung cancer. About half of the people who get screened for lung cancer have nodules in their lungs. The smaller the nodules are, the less likely it is that they're cancerous.

For nodules less than 6 millimeters in size (about the size of a pea, or a pencil eraser), less than one out of every 100 is a lung cancer. For nodules of this size, the best thing to do is watch them over time and see if they grow. By comparing scans each year, we can easily see if a nodule grows. A nodule that stays the same size is almost always harmless (benign).

If a nodule is 10 millimeters in size or greater (about the width of your pinky finger), additional screening or testing may be needed. In these cases, you may be told to schedule a PET-CT scan or a biopsy.