The Importance of Lung Cancer Screening

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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.

Show transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Bernard Park, a lung cancer surgeon here at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Today, I am going to take you through our lung cancer screening process.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States in both men and women, but lung cancer screening performed in individuals we know are at higher risk can help detect lung cancer at an earlier, curable point.

Lung cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage of disease because early on it has few, if any, symptoms.

Lung cancer screening is quick and easy and most importantly, can save your life. Early detection gives us the best chance at a cure.

When lung cancer is caught early, treatment is usually surgery or radiation therapy alone and can cure lung cancer up to 90% of the time.

It’s also important to mention if you are or were an individual who smoked, you should still get screened.

Before your screening visit, you'll meet with either a doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant either in person or via telehealth in order to review your eligibility, the risks and benefits of screening, and to answer any questions that you may have about the process. 

After we’ve answered all of your questions, you'll be escorted to radiology where you will receive your screening scan.

The type of machine we use for the screening is called a CAT or a CT scanner. As you can see, it has a wide opening, so it shouldn't cause any claustrophobic feelings at all.  

All CTs deliver a dose of radiation in order to get an accurate scan. But lung cancer screening CTs are low dose in that they use the lowest possible amount of radiation while still getting a highly accurate image of the lungs. It only takes about five minutes to complete and does not require you to drink any solutions or get any type of injection of dyes or contrast.

The CT scans are then reviewed by an expert MSK radiologist within one business day. Once the CT scan result is available, a nurse will give you a call to review the result, and we will determine if your follow-up will be every 12 months or sooner than that.

To find out if you are eligible for a lung cancer screening, go to mskcc.org/lungscreening and take our quick online quiz.

If you’re eligible, you'll be able to make an appointment right then and there. If you have any questions, you can call this number.