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Lung Cancer Screening | LDCT

Lung cancer can affect anyone but older adults with a history of smoking cigarettes are at a higher risk. There are over 1,400 lung cancer diagnoses in Maine each year. This number may be surprising, but it is not without hope. Lung cancer screening is an effective way to detect cancer early, giving you more time and options in your treatment. The MaineHealth Cancer Care Network offers comprehensive lung cancer screenings to test people at high risk for lung cancer.

What is lung cancer screening?

  • Lung cancer screening is a way to find cancer before it causes symptoms or problems.
  • Low-dose CT (LDCT) is a CAT scan used for lung cancer screening that takes pictures of your lungs. The LDCT scan is painless and takes less than five minutes. Doctors study the pictures to look for signs of cancer.
  • Lung cancer screening helps find cancer. It does not prevent it.

Should I be screened for lung cancer?

Talk with your health care provider about lung cancer screening if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are between 50-80 years old;
  • You currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years;
  • You have smoked an amount that is equal to or greater than 20 pack years, such as:
    • 1 pack a day for 20 years, or
    • 2 packs a day for 10 years

For people who are eligible, the cost of lung cancer screening is covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. However, the details of exactly who qualifies can vary. For example, some insurance plans may cover screening for people of slightly different ages or history of pack years. Call your health insurance company to confirm the specific details of your plan.   

Learn more about lung cancer screening.

Want to lower your risk of lung cancer?

The best way is to stop smoking. If you want to stop, or have decided to quit, here’s help.


Lung Cancer FAQs

Your symptoms and your medical history—especially if you have any history of cancer in your family—will help your doctor decide how likely it is that you have lung cancer and whether you need lung cancer screening.

Lung cancer screening includes the following services:

  • Lung cancer risk evaluation

  • Education and counseling about lung cancer screenings

  • LCDT scan and diagnosis

  • Follow-up testing and treatment as needed

  • Referrals to "Quit Smoking" programs, if needed

What happens if they find cancer?

Lung cancer is usually first found on a chest X-ray or a LDCT/CT scan. More tests are done to find out what kind of cancer cells you have and whether they have spread beyond your lung. These tests help your doctor and you find out what stage the cancer is in. The stage is a rating to measure how big the cancer is and how far it has spread.


Most lung cancer is caused by smoking. But sometimes lung cancer develops in people who have never smoked. Being exposed to secondhand smoke, arsenic, asbestos, radioactive dust, or radon can increase your chances of getting lung cancer. People who are exposed to radiation at work or elsewhere have a higher chance of getting lung cancer.
Lung cancer that is caused by smoking can be prevented. So it is important to stop smoking—or to stop being around someone else's smoke. Even if you have smoked a long time, quitting can lower your chances of getting cancer. If you already have lung cancer, quitting makes your treatment work better and can help you live longer.

Committed to Healthy Communities

Learn more about how MaineHealth is helping to decrease tobacco use.