Should you as an ex-smoker have a CT scan to rule out lung cancer?

Should you as an ex-smoker have a CT scan to rule out lung cancer?  This is a great question.

A few years ago the National Lung Screening Trial found a reduction in disease-specific and all-cause mortality with lung cancer screening.  THEN the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care AND the U.S Preventive Services Task Force voted in favor of a low-dose lung CT scan in those aged 55-80 who have a 30-pack/year smoking history (like one pack a day for 30 years) and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.  So, we physicians, have been ordering low-dose lung CT scans on appropriate patients.

What were the results?  In a small group of Veterans Health Administration patients, it was found that 97.5% of patients who were told they had an abnormal lung CT DID NOT have lung cancer.

Where does this leave us?  The patient and physician should have a discussion about the risks of a false-positive result (a concerning lung CT with subsequent negative work up) and other harms such as radiation exposure, over-

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diagnosis and incidental non-lung-cancer findings.

Talk to your doctor.  Make a plan.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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