Detect Lung Cancer with a Spiral Lung CT

Detect Lung Cancer with a Spiral Lung CT

Courtesy MercyCare Community 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 spiral lung CT, a non-invasive test to screen for lung cancer. Introduced in the early 1990s, spiral lung CTs utilize computer-controlled X-rays to scan a person’s entire chest in 7-15 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.

“Spiral lung CTs are an effective way of screening patients for lung cancer,” says Scott Coole, D.O., 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.”

Dr. Coole also suggests patients check with their insurance company regarding their coverage for spiral lung CTs and other lung cancer screening tests as coverage varies from plan to plan. “It’s best to know what your coverage will be upfront to avoid any financial surprises in the end,” he says.

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