Detect Lung Cancer with Low-Dose Computed Tomography

Detect Lung Cancer with Low-Dose Computed Tomography

Courtesy MercyCare Physicians, Linn County LIVING WELL Magazine

Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer for both woman and men – behind breast and prostate cancer, respectively – but is the most deadly form of cancer for both genders. Each year, lung cancer claims more lives than breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancers combined. As with all forms of cancer, early detection of lung cancer is key to beating the disease, however, lung cancer can be hard to detect as it is largely symptom free in its earliest stages. There are different types of screenings available to detect lung cancer and those at high risk for the disease (particularly those who have used or who are still using tobacco products), should speak with their doctor regarding their risk factors and if a screening is right for them.

One type of screening your provider may recommend is a low-dose lung computed tomography (CT), a non-invasive test to screen for lung cancer. Introduced in the early 1990s, lung CTs utilize computer-controlled X-rays to scan a person’s entire chest in seven to 15 seconds. The patient lies on a table that passes through the center of the scanner as it rotates around the patient. A computer then creates images from the information gathered during the X-ray and assembles them into two-dimensional slices at very small intervals. The end result is a highly-detailed image of the chest cavity, allowing the provider to see any abnormalities.

“Low-dose CTs are an effective way of screening high risk patients for lung cancer,” says Nicole Collett, MD, MercyCare Pulmonology and Intensive Care. “Patients should talk to their primary care provider about their personal risks for the disease and what their screening options may be.” People at high risk for the disease include current or former smokers (aged 55-74 years), with a smoking history of at least 30 pack years (that is, an average of a pack a day for 30 years).

For more information on Dr. Collett or another MercyCare provider, please visit our website,