Lung Cancer Screening

Lung Cancer is a dangerous disease, accounting for more cancer deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer combined. Every year, more than 228,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer.

While the current five-year survival rate for lung cancer is only 15 percent, a lung cancer screening test can decrease the chance of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent in patients who are considered high-risk for developing lung cancer.

What is a lung cancer screening and how is it done?

A lung cancer screening exam is a low-dose computed tomography (CT) exam of the chest, which takes X-rays of the chest from multiple angles and allows detection of lung nodule at small as 1 or 2 millimeters.

As a screening exam, the study is designed to look at those people at highest risk of developing lung cancer with the goal being to detect disease early. Earlier detection of a cancer means improved survival from cancer.

Patients who qualify as high risk for lung cancer will receive a low-dose CT at Boone Hospital. The results will be available within a business day. We will contact your doctor and you with results. We will also assist you and your doctor with scheduling any follow up examinations.

Because the low-dose CT lung cancer screening scan is endorsed by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) with a grade B recommendation for high-risk individuals that meet certain criteria, many private health insurances are now paying for this screening service for eligible patients.

Do I qualify for the exam as a high-risk patient?

If these criteria apply to you, you are at higher risk for developing lung cancer and should have a screening.

  • Age 55-80 and
  • Greater than or equal to a 30 pack-year history of smoking* and
  • Have quit smoking less than 15 years ago

*How to Calculate Your Pack-Year History of Smoking: Take the number of years you have smoked times the number of packs per day. For example, if you have smoked two packs per day for 15 years, then your pack-year history would be 30.

If you meet the above criteria, please contact your primary care physician to set up a screening CT exam.

Potential drawbacks

  • The screening uses a very small dose of radiation, which has unknown side effects.
  • Lung cancer screenings are very effective at detecting spots on the lungs. However, only a small percentage of these spots turn out to be cancerous. Further testing is required to determine if spots are cancer.

Risk factors for developing lung cancer:

  • Smoking
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Exposure to substances known to cause cancer
  • Exposure to radon
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Military exposure to Agent Orange
  • Having diseases such as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or pneumonia

Quit smoking now

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking. These resources can help:

  • Register and attend free in-person classes with the Columbia/Boone County Health Department: Call 573.874.7356 and ask to speak with the Smoking Cessation Coordinator.
  • The American Lung Association: Go to and click on Stop Smoking, then How to Quit, then Freedom From Smoking.
  • The Missouri Tobacco Quit Line: 1 800 QUIT NOW (1.800.784.8669)
  • For additional questions: Call WELLAWARE at 573.815.3263

If you would like to learn more about Lung Cancer and Lung Cancer Screening

Visit the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) website which provides additional information.

I would like to have a lung cancer screening.

Lung Cancer Screening

Get more information about getting a lung cancer screening by calling 573.815.2873