Lung Cancer Screening

Evidence suggests that lung cancer screening programs can detect approximately one half of lung cancer cases at an early stage, at which surgery with curative intent is an option.

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic has been designated as an American College of Radiology Lung Cancer Screening Center offering patients an option for lung cancer screening as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The American College of Radiology Lung Cancer Screening Center designation is a voluntary program that recognizes facilities that have committed to practice safe, effective diagnostic care for individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer. In order to receive this distinction, facilities must be accredited by the ACR in computed tomography in the chest module, as well as undergo a rigorous assessment of its lung cancer screening protocol and infrastructure.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends yearly lung cancer screening for people who:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking (equivalent to smoking one pack per day for 30 years)
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years
  • Are between 55 and 80 years old

Heavy smoking means a smoking history that is equivalent to 30 pack years or more. A pack year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 30-pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.

The new lung cancer screening is a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). In this test, a Computerized Tomography (CT) machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to make detailed pictures of the lungs. LDCT is currently the only recommended screening test for lung cancer.

Although lung cancer screening is not an alternative to smoking cessation, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found adequate evidence that annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT of high-risk people can prevent a substantial number of lung cancer–related deaths. Right now, approximately 160,000 people die from lung cancer each year. If the task force’s recommendation were fully implemented, it could save approximately 20,000 lives each year. However, screening alone cannot prevent most lung cancer–related deaths, and smoking cessation remains essential.

For more information about lung cancer screening offered at Sansum Clinic, please contact your primary care physician or call 1 (800) 4 Sansum (1-800-472-6786).

Also, for information and support on quitting smoking please contact the Health Resource Center, 215 Pesetas Lane, first floor near the lab, call (805) 681-7672.