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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The American Lung Association and American Cancer Society both suggest that if you meet the following criteria, you may want to consider screening:

  • You are a current or former smoker who quit within the last 15 years
  • You are 55-74 years old
  • You have a history of heavy smoking (such as one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years)

If you meet these criteria, a low-dose CT scan should be used for screening. A CT scan is a series of x-rays put together by a computer to create images of the lung. This test may be able to identify smaller tumors better than a chest x-ray can.


Can non-small cell lung cancer be found early? American Cancer Society website. Available at: February 17, 2012. Accessed May 14, 2012.

Lung cancer (non-small cell). American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

Learn about cancer (small cell). American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

Lung cancer—for patients. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

Lung cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 2008. Accessed October 7, 2008.

Lung cancer CT screening: Is it right for me? American Lung Association website. Available at: Accessed May 10, 2012.

10/1/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance Manser R, Irving L, et al. Screening for lung cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD001991.

Last reviewed September 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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