Lung Cancer Screening Process
What Happens During a Lung Cancer CT Scan?If you are a candidate for lung cancer screening, you will first have a medical consultation with CPMC's pulmonologists in the lung cancer program: George Horng, MD, Benson Chen, MD, or Charles McDonald, MD. During this consultation, the pulmonologist will discuss your medical history, provide education on the risks and benefits of screening, and make sure you meet the recommended guidelines. If you meet the screening criteria you will be scheduled for the CT scan, located in the Radiology Department at CPMC in San Francisco.
Is a Doctor's Referral Needed for Lung Cancer Screening?No. If you meet the criteria outlined above you can refer yourself by calling 1-888-637-2762 or completing the form on this page.
What Does Lung Cancer Screening Cost?The initial cost of consultation with the pulmonologist depends on your insurance. Our pulmonologist offices will provide prior authorization and inform you of your coverage or potential cost before you meet with the doctor. If you require the CT for screening it will be an out-of-pocket cost of $295. At this time only Blue Cross health insurance covers cost of lung cancer CT screening.
What Does the Lung CT Scan Involve?After arriving at CPMC’s Radiology Department, a radiologic technologist will escort you to the scanning room and have you change into a gown. You will lie on your back on the CT scanner table and hold your breath while the scan is being acquired. The scan itself takes less than a minute to perform and the entire procedure lasts about 15 minutes. The study is painless and no injections or IV’s are needed.
What About Radiation from the CT Scan?Since the effects of radiation are cumulative over time, it is important to have the lowest possible dose of radiation. Individuals in the Lung Cancer Screening Program are screened with a low-dose CT scan which exposes the patient to about 1.5 milliSieverts of radiation. The average annual amount of radiation an individual receives living in the San Francisco Bay Area is about 2.5 to 3.0 milliSieverts. This scanner offers excellent image clarity with 40 to 70 percent less radiation than a standard CT scan.
How Are Screening Results Interpreted?A board certified radiologist will first interpret the lung screening CT. The radiologist will share the screening and initial findings with the pulmonologist you visited during your initial consultation. After reviewing your scan, the pulmonologist will contact you to review the screening and will create a personalized plan moving forward. You will also receive a copy of the scan and report results.
What if My CT Scan is Abnormal?Individuals who have a lung abnormality identified on the CT scan will meet with a pulmonologist to determine next steps. Unique to CPMC, all lung cancer cases are presented at CPMC’s Diagnostic Thoracic Tumor Board, where your case is reviewed by a panel of experts including a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, thoracic surgeon and pulmonologist. Together, these specialists discuss treatment options and outline the best course of action for your case. CPMC offers comprehensive diagnosis and leading-edge care for lung cancer, and our cancer team works closely with you and your family to review treatment options.
What if My CT Scan is Normal?We recommend that you return for annual lung cancer CT screenings because of your high risk for lung cancer. If you are still smoking, we strongly recommend you quit.
The Cancer Care Program at California Pacific Medical Center
California Pacific Medical Center, a San Francisco hospital that is part of the Sutter Health,Opens new window network, offers cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment, physician specialists and research as part of our Cancer Care Program. We provide personalized patient care using leading-edge cancer treatment options.
Lung Cancer Screening Program
California Pacific Medical Center
2333 Buchanan Street
San Francisco, CA 94115