Results

Examples of lung cancer screening results include:

  • No abnormalities discovered. If no abnormalities are discovered on your lung cancer screening test, your health care provider may recommend you undergo another scan in a year. You may consider continuing annual scans until age 80 or until you and your doctor determine they are unlikely to offer a benefit, due to other significant health issues you may have.
  • Lung nodules. Lung cancer may appear as a small spot in the lungs. Unfortunately, many other lung conditions look the same, including scars from lung infections and noncancerous (benign) growths. In studies, as many as half the people undergoing lung cancer screening have one or more nodules detected on an LDCT.

    Most small nodules don't require immediate action and will be monitored at your next annual lung cancer screening. In some cases, the results may suggest the need for another lung CT scan in a few months to see if the lung nodule grows. Growing nodules are more likely to be cancerous.

    A large nodule is more likely to be cancerous. For that reason, you might be referred to a lung specialist (pulmonologist) for additional tests, such as a procedure (biopsy) to remove a piece of a large nodule for laboratory testing, or for additional imaging tests, such as a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

  • Other health problems. Your lung cancer screening test may detect other lung and heart problems that are common in people who have smoked for a long time, such as emphysema and hardening of the arteries in the heart. Discuss these findings with your health care provider to determine if additional tests are indicated.
Feb. 15, 2017
References
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  2. Moyer VA, et al. Screening for lung cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014;160:330.
  3. Lung cancer screening. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
  4. Smith RA, et al. Cancer screening in the United States, 2016: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2016;66:95.
  5. Detterbeck FC, et al. Diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed.: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2013;143(suppl):7S.
  6. Lung cancer screening (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/lung-screening-pdq. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
  7. Computed tomography (CT) — chest. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=chestct. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
  8. Decision memo for screening for lung cancer with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) (CAG-00439N). Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
  9. Midthun DE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 30, 2015.