Lung Cancer Screening Program

The UCSF Lung Cancer Screening Program uses CT scans to detect lung cancer in the early stages, when it's easier to treat and cure. We serve patients who are at increased risk for developing lung cancer, including current smokers and former smokers who quit within the past 15 years.

A national study involving more than 50,000 current and former smokers found that CT lung cancer screening reduced lung cancer deaths by as much as 20 percent.

A pioneer in this field, UCSF uses low-dose protocols that greatly reduce radiation exposure. The procedure is fast and painless, and patients get their results promptly. All scans are read by UCSF specialists.

Candidates for Screening

To be eligible for the screening program, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Age between 55 and 80 years.
  • Current smoker or former smoker who quit within the past 15 years.
  • A smoking history of at least 30 pack years or more. (Pack years are calculated by multiplying the average number of cigarette packs smoked per day by the number of years you smoked.)
  • Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer.

Note: Insurance plans may have their own age ranges for which they will cover CT lung cancer screening. To verify coverage, please check with your insurance provider.

What to Expect

You don't need to physically prepare for your screening. Your appointment will start with checking in at the front desk and filling out standard paperwork.

A technologist will then take you to a dressing room and waiting area in back. If your clothing contains metal, we may ask you to change into a hospital gown.

The tech will take you to the CT scanner and position you on the table with arms overhead. The table will move slowly in and out of the scanner opening as it captures images. During this process, the machine will tell you to either hold your breath for a four- to eight-second period or to breathe normally.

Please contact your referring doctor to discuss your results.

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