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Screening for Lung cancer

This radiation screening, which is officially called Low Dose CT (Computed Tomography) Lung Screening, can detect tumors that 80 percent of chest x-rays don’t reveal.

Thanks to advanced lung cancer screening technology, smokers and past smokers may have a new lease on a long life.

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center's Diagnostic Imaging department offers cutting-edge, low-dose radiation lung cancer screenings in partnership with RADIA, a Pacific Northwest radiology group.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, partly due to the inability to detect the disease early with the traditional chest x-ray screening. This radiation screening, which is officially called Low Dose CT (Computed Tomography) Lung Screening, can detect tumors that 80 percent of chest x-rays don’t reveal.

The test itself takes about five minutes and identifies tumors in high-risk patients, while a tumor may still be curable with surgery. Low dose CT screening has the potential to reduce the number of deaths from cancer in the U.S. by a whopping 20 percent. But is the screening right for you?

Some of the known risk factors for developing lung cancer include anyone who:

  • Has smoked a pack or more of cigarettes per day for at least
    10 years
  • Was a former smoker within the past 15 years
  • Has had heavy exposure to second-hand smoke or other
    cancer-causing agents for at least 10 years
  • Has a family history of lung cancer
  • Smokes a pipe or cigars

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, Medicare will cover lung cancer screening with Low Dose CT once per year for Medicare beneficiaries who meet all of the following criteria:

  • They are age 55-77, and are either current smokers or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • They have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years)
  • They receive a written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner that meets certain requirements


Talk to your primary care provider, who must order the CT screening for you. Allow 30 to 45 minutes for your visit. Although this new technology is not covered by all insurance carriers, changes are being made for 2016 regarding coverage of the screening under insurance plans and Medicare.

To schedule a CT Lung Screening at the Diagnostic Imaging department, please call Central Scheduling Services 360.678.7607 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.