November is Lung Cancer Awareness month.

One in 14 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime. It usually doesn't cause symptoms until the cancer is advanced and harder to treat.


The good news is that there is a screening test called the low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan that can find lung tumors early, when there is a better chance to treat the disease. A low-dose CT scan takes less than 2 minutes.

There are no medications or injections needed and there is no need to stop eating or drinking before the exam. An X-ray machine rotates around you and takes images from many angles. This test produces detailed cross-sectional images of the lungs which can show the shape, size and location of anything abnormal in the chest that might signal the need for a follow up.

Who should be screened?

There are several risk factors that can affect a person's chances of getting lung cancer, but smoking is by far the leading risk factor. The American Cancer Society recommends screening for people who are at high risk of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking.

The ideal person to be screened is:

  • 55 to 77 years old;
  • Has a smoking history of at least 30 pack years (one pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.); and
  • Is currently smoking or has quit within the past 15 years.

If you fit this list, talk to your health care provider about making a low-dose CT lung screening part of your preventive medical care.

Medicare and most private insurers are currently covering the cost of the low-dose CT scan. Check your insurance guidelines for specifics on coverage.

If you are a smoker, the most effective way to lower your risk of lung cancer is to quit smoking.

The Carroll County Health Department offers free walk-in tobacco clinics as well as vouchers to cover the cost of nicotine replacement products, and vouchers to cover part of the cost of Chantix® (with a prescription from your doctor). Call 410-876-4429 for more information.

To learn more about the low-dose CT scan visit the American Lung Association website at or visit the American Cancer Society website at

Anne Grauel, M.P.H., is a community health educator, Cigarette Restitution Fund Programs with the Carroll County Health Department.