Low-Dose CT Screening for Lung Cancer

Low-dose CT (computed tomography) screening for lung cancer is a way of finding tumors before they become too advanced and become difficult to treat effectively. This screening method has been shown to reduce the risk of death from lung cancer in high-risk patients by 20 percent compared to chest x-ray alone. However, many lung nodules (growths) detected from the low-dose CT screening are not cancers, so follow-up CT scans or other tests will be necessary to determine the presence of cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have a 30-pack-per-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years. Screening is discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years, develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy, or does not wish to have lung surgery. The CT scan itself lasts only about 20 seconds. Those being screened will have electrodes placed on their chest and will be asked to hold their breath for a few seconds as the scan is performed.


UAB Medicine is an ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center, as designated by the American College of Radiology’s Committee on CT Accreditation, which certifies that we maintain the most advanced imaging equipment and techniques. The UAB Medicine Lung Cancer Program features a multidisciplinary team of physicians and surgeons to evaluate and manage lung cancer, including some of the world's leading experts in thoracic surgery, oncology, and pulmonology. This collaboration of medical and surgical specialists includes a tumor board, a panel of experts that meets regularly and discusses patients almost daily to help ensure that your cancer is cared for in the most efficient and effective manner possible. We provide expedited diagnostic evaluation and treatment when an abnormality is found. Our Lung Cancer Program is part of the UAB Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Deep South.

UAB’s Thoracic Surgery Unit is one of only a handful of its kind in the world and is dedicated solely to caring for diseases and disorders of the lungs and esophagus. Backed by a highly experienced team of thoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses, the group routinely performs complex lung surgeries on patients referred by other physicians. We also have one of the most active and successful robotic surgery programs in the world, allowing for greater precision and generally more successful outcomes compared to traditional surgical methods. The Pulmonary Medicine component of our Lung Cancer Program focuses on the initial diagnosis and staging of suspected neoplasms (new and abnormal tissue growths) in the chest and on managing related complications, such as malignant pleural effusions. Our comprehensive Interventional Pulmonology Program maintains the expertise necessary to offer the latest diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for patients with lung cancer, airway disorders, and pleural diseases.

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Related Conditions

This procedure may be used to treat or diagnose several different conditions. We have listed some of these conditions below for your convenience. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and may vary depending on your specific diagnosis.