Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

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VIDEO | 3:21
Hear from Bernard Park about how easy and beneficial it is to get screened for lung cancer at MSK. Dr. Park is Deputy Chief of Clinical Affairs in the Thoracic Service at MSK.
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Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers. It develops when abnormal cells grow in either the lungs or the bronchi (the air tubes that lead to the lungs). Read more about lung cancer.

What is the Screening Test for Lung Cancer?

Screening is done with a scanner that uses X-rays and a computer to combine images for a clear view of your lungs. This is called a low-dose CT scan. During this scan you will lie down on a table that moves you in and out of a machine. This machine will take many pictures. A computer will combine these images to make a detailed 3D picture of your lungs. Learn more about screening tests for lung cancer.

What is My Risk for Lung Cancer?

Knowing your risk for getting lung cancer will help you decide whether screening is right for you. A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease, such as cancer. Important risk factors for lung cancer include your age, and how many years you have smoked, if any.

Getting screened could be a breath of fresh air.
See if you are eligible for a lung cancer screening with a two-minute quiz.

Other than your age and years of smoking, here are some other factors that may put you at risk:

  • Breathing in the smoke of other people (secondhand smoke).
  • Exposure to radon (a radioactive gas found in some homes and buildings).
  • Breathing in other substances that cause cancer, such as asbestos, arsenic, and exhaust from vehicles or machines.
  • Having a family member related to you by blood with lung cancer.

If you have any of these risk factors, talk with your healthcare provider to learn if screening is right for you.

Other factors play a role in your risk of getting lung cancer. They include your race, gender, and lifestyle. For example, Black men are more likely to get lung cancer than white men, even if their tobacco use is similar. Black women are less likely to get lung cancer than white women.

MSK’s Screening Guidelines for Lung Cancer

MSK follows the latest recommendation for lung cancer screening from the United States Preventive Services Task Force. The type of screening you have and your screening schedule are based on your personal risk for lung cancer.

MSK recommends you get screened every year if you are between the ages of 50 and 80 and:

  • Smoke now or quit smoking within the past 15 years.
  • Have smoked an average of 1 pack a day for 20 years or what comes out as the same number of cigarettes. For example, you could have smoked 2 packs a day for 10 years or a half pack a day for 40 years.

MSK generally recommends that you do not get screened if you have a severe disease or illness that cannot be cured.