Low-Dose CT Screening for Lung Cancer
Low-dose CT (computed tomography) screening for lung cancer is a way of finding tumors before they become too advanced and become difficult to treat successfully. This screening method has been shown to reduce the risk of death from lung cancer in high-risk patients by 20% compared to chest X-ray alone. However, many lung nodules (growths) detected from the low-dose CT screening are not cancerous, so follow-up CT scans or other tests may be needed to determine the presence of cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans in adults age 55-80 who have a 30-pack-per-year smoking history and currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years. Medicare approved screening for patients age 55-77, and this is the age group that UAB Medicine provides screening for. Screening is stopped once a person has not smoked for 15 years, develops a health problem that seriously limits life expectancy, or does not wish to have lung surgery. The CT scan itself lasts only about 20 seconds. Patients being screened are asked to hold their breath for a few seconds as the scan is performed. All patients must be referred for the test by a physician after a shared decision-making appointment. It is important that a responsible health care provider manages follow-up care for patients with a positive test.
UAB Medicine is an ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center, as designated by the American College of Radiology’s Committee on CT Accreditation, which certifies that we maintain the most advanced imaging equipment and techniques. The UAB Medicine Lung Cancer Program features a comprehensive team of physicians and surgeons to evaluate and manage lung cancer, including some of the world's leading experts in thoracic radiology, thoracic surgery, oncology, and pulmonology. This collaboration of medical and surgical specialists includes a tumor board, a panel of experts who meet regularly and discuss patients to help ensure that your cancer is cared for in the most efficient and effective manner possible. We provide fast diagnostic evaluation and treatment when an abnormality is found. Our Lung Cancer Program is part of the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, which is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Deep South.
UAB’s Thoracic Surgery Unit is one of only a handful of its kind in the world and is dedicated to caring for diseases and disorders of the lungs and esophagus. Backed by a highly experienced team of thoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses, the group routinely performs complex lung surgeries on patients referred by other physicians. We also have one of the most active and successful robotic surgery programs in the world, allowing for greater precision and generally more successful outcomes compared to traditional surgical methods. The pulmonary medicine component of our Lung Cancer Program focuses on the initial diagnosis and staging of suspected neoplasms (new and abnormal tissue growths) in the chest and on managing related complications, such as malignant pleural effusions (fluid build-up between the lungs and chest). Our Interventional Pulmonology Program has the wide range of expertise needed to offer the latest diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for patients with lung cancer, airway disorders, and pleural diseases.
Meet the Team: Joseph Thachuthara-George, MD
Dr. Thachuthara-George helped build the UAB Interventional Pulmonology program, and he believes that comprehensive care – working closely with other medical specialists, as needed – is the best approach to treating patients.
Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
UAB interventional pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons collaborate in treating lung cancer with less invasive procedures.
Medical Minute: Pulmonary & Thoracic Surgery
Hitesh Batra, MD, and Benjamin Wei, MD, discuss the collaborative relationship between UAB Medicine's interventional pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons and how less invasive treatments for lung nodules and lung cancer lead to faster recovery times.
UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.View Clinical Trials