Overview of Lung Cancer Screening and Smoking
I got screened for lung cancer. Now what?
You will receive a letter in the mail within about a week following your CT screening. The results may also be posted on your electronic medical record system depending on your doctor/hospital's protocol. More than half of the people having a screening CT scan will have pulmonary nodules. These tiny nodules are caused by inflammation in the lung and nearly all of them are benign.
What will my results say?
Your results will say whether your scan was "negative" or "normal," or "abnormal" meaning the scan found nodules in your lungs.
Negative or normal results
"Negative" or normal results are the most common. If your results are "negative," you will be told to schedule your next screen scan in 1 year. The next scan can be compared to the first scan to look for anything new that develops. It is important that you keep getting CT screens every year or more often, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
Screening works because it helps you find lung cancer in the early stages, when it can be treated most effectively. If you stop screening, you lose the ability to tell what is happening. Read more about what you can do to lower your risk of developing lung cancer if you have a normal screen.
Positive or abnormal results
Less than 10 out of every 100 screen scans will be “positive” or “abnormal.”
- 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.
- A few scans out of every 100 scans will show a nodule large enough to require some additional testing immediately. The additional testing might involve a PET-CT scan or consideration of a biopsy or surgery.
- Read more about what you can expect if you have an “abnormal” test result.
Participating in lung screening can be an important step for lung health. You also might be thinking now is the time to make healthy lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking. EX is a great resource for quitting smoking and staying quit.