What to Expect During Lung Cancer Screening

A lung cancer screening at NYU Langone is quick and painless. It involves a low-dose CT scan, during which drugs or injections are not used. 

For the CT scan, you lie on a table that slides through the CT scanner. You are asked to keep very still and hold your breath for the 20-second duration of the scan. The entire procedure takes only about 10 minutes, including preparation and the scan itself.

You may be asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to the appointment to check in and prepare for the study at our imaging center.

After your scan, a pulmonologist reviews the CT images, as well as the radiologist’s interpretation of them, and then calls you to discuss the results and to answer any questions you may have. The results and recommendations for any follow up are sent by mail to you and your physician.

Our current recommendation is that if your initial scan is normal, but you are at high risk for lung cancer, you should consider annual screenings until age 74, or until you have quit smoking for more than 15 years. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the CT scan.

You are also invited to contribute to lung cancer research by participating in our lung cancer biomarker screening study. If you choose to participate in the study, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire and undergo lung function testing and blood and sputum (spit) testing for research purposes, in addition to the CT scan.