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If you make an appointment with the UNC Early Detection of Lung Cancer Program, you can expect to have a full counseling session to decide if screening is right for you. If you choose to be screened, a LDCT scan will be performed.

At your clinic appointment

  • You will meet with Jason Long, MD, MPH, discuss your individual health history and risk factors for lung cancer.
  • Together you will weigh the potential benefits and harms of undergoing lung cancer screening, and make a choice about whether or not you want to undergo the screening exam at that time.
  • Patients who are currently smoking and interested in quitting will meet with the Smoking Cessation Counselor to determine treatment options for cessation.

If you choose to be screened

  • If you elect to undergo screening, clinic staff will order a low dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan at the UNC Hospitals Imaging & Spine Center to be performed that day.
  • The LDCT scan uses a large, doughnut-shaped machine with a table extending through the center of the doughnut that you lie on. You will hold your breath for about 20 seconds while pictures of your lungs are taken.
  • One of UNC’s thoracic radiologists will read the images of your lungs and interpret them for signs of lung cancer. The radiologist’s findings and recommendations will then be sent to Dr. Long.
  • You will be contacted with results of your scan as soon they are received.

What to expect from the results

  • About 1 in 4 LDCT lung screening exams finds something in the lung requiring additional imaging.
  • These findings are most frequently lung nodules. Lung nodules are relatively common collections of tissue in the lung, and most are non-cancerous.
  • If a nodule has suspicious features (such as a large size or an odd shape) you will likely be referred for additional imaging and possibly further testing.