Do You Need a Lung CT Scan for Cancer Detection?

September 16, 2021 – 3 min read

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Do You Need a Lung CT Scan for Cancer Detection?

CT scans are often used for an accurate diagnosis of numerous health issues, ranging from pneumonia and heart disease to joint problems and cancer. A lung CT scan at Touchstone Medical Imaging is helpful for diagnosing issues within the lungs, including cancer.

An important tool for lung cancer diagnosis

While MRI scans, X-ray and other imaging technologies can help determine the extent of cancer, CT scans have a special place in lung cancer detection—a lung CT scan can reveal lung cancer before it causes problems. In fact, it is currently the only lung cancer screening recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

A lung CT scan is quick and painless. During the test, you lie still on a table. A special X-ray machine quickly rotates around you, taking detailed images of your lungs. These images are produced in thin slices and then stacked together by a computer to provide radiologists with a 3D view of your lungs. The detailed view of the lungs can help radiologists detect subtle irregularities that can indicate cancer.

When radiologists review a lung CT, they’re looking for lung nodules, which show up on a CT scan as white spots. The nodules can result from scar tissue or an infection, but they could also be caused by early lung cancer. According to the American Thoracic Society, less than 5% of nodules are cancerous. To determine if the nodule is cancerous, your doctor can order additional imaging studies, monitor the nodule over time to see if it grows or perform a biopsy, either through surgery or using a needle.

Criteria for lung CT scan for cancer diagnosis

Lung CT scans aren’t for everyone. The test is recommended only for those at high risk for lung cancer, primarily people who currently smoke or have smoked in the past.

Your doctor may recommend a CT screening for lung cancer if you meet each of these three criteria:

  • Are between 50 and 80 years old
  • Currently smoke or stopped smoking within the last 15 years
  • Smoked at least one pack a day for at least 20 years (or two packs a day for 10 years)

If you meet the criteria, you should consider undergoing the screening each year. Your insurance may cover all or part the cost, and you may not even have a copay or deductible to meet.

Providing valuable results

Lung cancer, which causes a quarter of all cancer-related deaths in the U.S., is the most dangerous cancer for men and women worldwide. Lung cancer is often curable when detected before it spreads, and lung CT screenings can help doctors find lung cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.

The advanced CT technology in use at Touchstone Medical Imaging facilities in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas allows our team of fellowship-trained, subspecialty radiologists to see potentially cancerous areas. The technology makes a tumor’s size, position and shape visible and may highlight nearby lymph nodes that have become cancerous. Once a CT scan reveals a tumor, the Touchstone Medical Imaging radiologist will promptly share that information with your doctor, who can recommend next steps.


Are you a current or former smoker younger than age 80? A lung CT scan could reveal valuable information about your health. Touchstone Medical Imaging has multiple locations in seven states, with same- and next-day appointment options available to make getting an imaging scan convenient. Get a referral from your doctor, and then find the closest Touchstone Medical Imaging center to schedule your appointment today.