Risks Associated to Lung Screening

There are several risks and limitations of LDCT lung screening. We want to make sure that we have done a good job explaining these to you, so please let us know if you have any questions. Your healthcare provider who ordered the screening may want to talk with you more about this:

Radiation exposure

LDCT lung screening uses radiation to create images of your lung. Radiation can increase a person’s risk of cancer. By using special techniques, the amount of radiation in LDCT lung screening is small—about the same amount a person would receive from a screening mammogram. Further, your doctor has determined that the benefits of the screening outweigh the risks of being exposed to the small amount of radiation from this exam.

False negatives

No test, including LDCT lung screening, is perfect. It is possible that you may have a medical condition, including lung cancer, that is not found during your exam. This is called a false negative.

False positives/additional testing

LDCT lung screening very often finds something in the lung that could be cancer but in fact is not. This is called a false positive. False positive tests often cause anxiety. In order to make sure these findings are not cancer, you may need to have more tests. These tests will be performed only if you give us permission.

Occasionally, patients need a procedure, such as a biopsy, that can have potential side effects. For more information on false positives, see What can I expect from the results?

Findings not related to lung cancer

Your LDCT lung screening exam also captures images of areas of your body next to your lungs. In a small percentage of cases (5%−10%), the CT scan will show an abnormal finding in one of these areas, such as your kidneys, adrenal glands, liver or thyroid. This finding may not be serious; however, you may need to be examined further. Your healthcare provider who ordered your exam can help determine what, if any, additional testing you may need.

 

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