Lung Cancer Screening
A simple screening can change your life.
Lung Cancer Facts
Each year, more Americans die from lung cancer than from breast, prostate
and colon cancers combined. Approximately one out of every four cancer
deaths in the United States is from lung cancer, according to the American
Cancer Society. But there is hope – and we can help.
Lung cancer is often curable if caught at an early stage. But most people
with the disease do not experience symptoms until it has advanced, when
treatment is less successful.
Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) recognizes the importance of lung
cancer screenings as an effective way to catch the disease at its earliest,
most treatable stage. Using low-dose computerized tomography (CT), our
radiologists and physicians can detect suspicious lung nodules and develop
an individualized plan of care delivered by a multidisciplinary team that
includes radiologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, thoracic surgeons,
medical and radiation oncologists, and a nurse navigator.
Think of a lung cancer screening like the physical, mammogram or colonoscopy
you probably already get to protect your health. And these screenings
require very little time and cause no discomfort.
Quit Today and Reduce Your Risk
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and screening for the disease
does not replace the health benefits of quitting. Your body will begin
recovering within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, reducing your heart
rate and blood pressure to healthier levels. And living a smoke-free life
increases lung function and decreases the risks for heart disease and
other cancers – like those of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder
Ready to quit?
For information about smoking cessation classes at SVMH, call
831.759.1890. Call the California Smokers’ Helpline at
1.800.NO.BUTTS, or visit
lung.org for more quitting resources and information.
Should You Get Screened?
If you meet all the criteria in either high-risk category, you should
ask your physician for a lung cancer screening order:
- 55-80 years of age
- No signs or symptoms of lung cancer
- Smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (packs per day X number of years)
- Current smoker/quit in the last 15 years
- Able/willing to undergo treatment, if recommended
- 50 years of age or older
- Smoking history of at least 20 pack-years (packs per day X number of years)
- One additional risk factor for lung cancer (such as radon exposure, family
history, existing lung disease and/or a personal history of cancer)
Once the order is received, the lung program coordinator will contact
you to schedule the test. These screenings are covered by most commercial
insurance carriers, and SVMH will offer a cash discount if the test is
not covered under your plan. For more information, call the SVMH Lung
Cancer Screening Program at
831.759.3029 or email
What Can You Expect During the Screening?
During the test, you will lie on a table and be required to hold your
breath for a few seconds while remaining still as the low-dose computerized
tomography (CT) scanner captures images of your chest from various angles.
No IV is necessary as no contrast is used.
Is It Effective and Safe?
The National Lung Screening Trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute,
showed a 20 percent decrease in lung cancer-related deaths for high-risk
individuals who underwent screening. A low-dose CT scan will expose you
to radiation, although much less than a standard CT scan. False positives
can occur, and a screening could result in the detection and treatment
of lung cancer that may have never grown or spread.
What If Cancer Is Detected?
If any abnormalities are detected, a nurse navigator will collaborate
with your physician and can help guide you through your next steps, including
additional testing and possibly treatment. Our Susan Bacon Cancer Resource
Center also offers patients and family members information about cancer
diagnosis, treatment and risk reduction, as well as emotional support.