William Krimsky, MD with a patient
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. Low-dose CT scans catch health issues early, when they are most treatable. This screening is essential for early detection. Our expert medical teams can determine if you’re at high risk and qualify for a screening, which is often covered by insurance. This quick, non-invasive scan can provide valuable — and even lifesaving — information about your health.

Screening: is a low-dose CT scan right for you?

A screening might be the right choice if the following apply to you:

  • Between ages 55 and 80

  • Smoking history equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years, or smoking two packs a day for 15 years

  • Current smoker or quit smoking less than 15 years ago

  • No signs or symptoms of lung cancer, such as shortness of breath, coughing up blood, unexplained fevers, chills, or weight loss (a doctor can determine if another condition is causing these symptoms)

Most insurance plans cover the cost of this screening, but a written doctor’s order is needed. Don’t have a doctor? We can help with that too. Just let us know when you schedule your appointment.

MedStar Health lung cancer risk assessment.

Learn more about early detection of lung cancer and if you are eligible for a screening.

Lung cancer diagnosis

One of the most aggressive forms of cancer, lung cancer, may continue to grow and spread into other areas of the body, causing other life-threatening problems. It is important to detect and treat as early as possible. When a patient presents with symptoms that might suggest lung cancer, or any other form of the disease, interventional pulmonologists will use several methods to make an accurate diagnosis.

To confirm the presence of cancer, MedStar Health doctors perform a biopsy, wherein a small sample of tissue is removed from the lung. A pathologist will then examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if cancer is present. A number of procedures may be used to obtain this tissue, including:

  • Navigational bronchoscopy is an advanced imaging system that allows minimally invasive biopsies of lesions anywhere in the lungs. Replacing the need for high-risk invasive procedures, such as chest needle biopsies and open surgeries, navigational bronchoscopy sets the stage for earlier lung cancer diagnosis. This, in turn, boosts survival rates and eliminates the stressful wait-and-see approach after finding a questionable area on a thoracic CAT scan.

    In the procedure, your surgeon uses a specialized catheter to capture a 3-D electromagnetic map of your lungs. Once your surgeon reaches the lesion, he or she will remove the catheter and insert an ultrasound device to visualize the lesion and its position in the airway. Getting as close as possible to the lesion, your surgeon will use tiny surgical instruments to remove enough tissue for a quick biopsy.

    The navigational bronchoscopy takes about an hour to perform and is a painless procedure done under general anesthesia. We offer endoscopic and endobronchial ultrasound at the same time as your navigational bronchoscopy test, so there is no need to make two trips or have two surgical procedures that require anesthesia.

  • Endoscopic and endobronchial ultrasound are advanced diagnostic technologies that provide real-time imaging of abnormalities inside the chest. These procedures are so effective, they can sometimes eliminate additional phases of testing. The real-time technology used in endoscopic and endobronchial ultrasounds has a long learning curve, and few physicians are prepared to perform them. However, MedStar Health specialists are trained to perform these procedures with precision

  • Fine-needle aspirations require your physician to insert a needle into the tumor. Tissue and cells are then removed from the abnormality inside your lungs or your lymph nodes. In some cases, your doctor will recommend using an ultrasound or CT scan as a guide for the needle
  • During a mediastinoscopy, your thoracic surgeon makes an incision at the top of the breastbone and inserts a thin, lighted tube to see inside the chest
  • To check sputum cytology, sputum (phlegm) is stained and examined under the microscope to look for malignant tumor cells
  • In a thoracentesis, your doctor checks the fluid in your chest, also called the pleural fluid. The area is numbed, and a needle is inserted into the chest to draw out some of the fluid
  • A thoracoscopy lets your doctor view your lungs and chest cavity internally. Your doctor will make several small incisions in your chest and back and insert a lighted narrow tube to check the areas for any abnormalities.
  • A thoracotomy is a procedure wherein a thoracic surgeon opens the chest with a long incision and removes any abnormalities or lymph nodes for further examination in the lab

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Patient Story

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Click below to learn how MedStar Health's Lung Cancer Screening Technology saved a patient's life.