lung cancer screening boulder community healthLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women. While lung cancer rates are decreasing nationally with fewer people smoking cigarettes, more deaths are attributed each year to lung cancer than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

Lung cancer can be caused by many risk factors, including exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, air pollution, carcinogens, a family history of lung cancer and asbestos. Cigarette smoking, however, is the number one cause of lung cancer.

Most people with lung cancer do not display symptoms until the cancer is advanced; Late stage diagnosis is common. Regular lung cancer screenings - for patients who smoke and are 55 and older - are recommended to find the cancer early, when treatment may work better and there may be a higher chance of survival.

Boulder Community Health (BCH) offers comprehensive lung cancer screening as an American College of Radiology designated lung cancer screening site.

The U.S. Preventative Task Force (USPSTF) and other professional societies recommend yearly lung cancer screenings for people who:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking (a 30 pack-year history of smoking which means one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years) and
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years and
  • Are between 55 and 80 years old

Lung cancer screening is not a substitute for quitting smoking.

Screening for lung cancer – and cancer in general - saves lives. For physicians to prevent one cancer-related death, the following must occur:

  • 320 lung cancer screenings
  • 800 colon cancer screenings
  • 1,500 breast cancer screenings

How to Get a Lung Cancer Screening

The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan). Screening is recommended only for adults who have no symptoms but are at high risk.

If you are thinking about getting screened, talk to your primary care doctor. After discussing the risks and benefits of a lung cancer screening together, your provider may order the scan.

Your provider can also refer you to BCH’s Pulmonary Nodule Clinic to further evaluate and treat any abnormalities found on the scan.

BCH’s pulmonary medicine specialists can:

  • Provide the right evaluation and treatment plans for abnormal CT scans
  • Track nodule changes within each appointment, flag nodules for follow-up and recommend next steps

To learn more about Pulmonary Medicine at BCH, please visit our Pulmonary Medicine page.