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Lung Cancer Screening

KRMC Cardiovascular Care
At Kalispell Regional Healthcare we are committed to providing effective lung cancer screening, timely multidisciplinary assessment and treatment planning, and coordinated care.

Lung cancer is a significant health problem in the United States. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women. Early detection of lung cancer is the key to significantly reducing mortality rates.

Am I at risk for lung cancer?

Your risk for lung cancer is unique to you. Here are some factors that might put you at risk for lung cancer:
  • A history of smoking
  • Exposure to radon or asbestos
  • A history of lung cancer in your immediate family
  • Exposure to Agent Orange or other cancer-causing materials
  • A diagnosis of other respiratory disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Contact with secondhand smoke

How do I know if I should get screened?

Regular lung cancer screenings are recommended for individuals ages 55-74 with a significant smoking history or heavy exposure to certain substances (including asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, radon, silica and uranium). If you have smoked a pack a day (or more) for 30 years and either continue to smoke or have quit in the past 15 years, you would benefit from screening.

How effective is lung cancer screening?

Woman gardening Low-dose CT scans are the only proven method for lung cancer screening for early detection of lung cancer and prevention of lung cancer deaths.
  • A study was recently conducted by the National Cancer Institute. The initial results of this eight-year national lung screening trial proved that low-dose CT scans can help save the lives of people at high risk for lung cancer.
  • The trial included more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55-74.
  • It compared the effects of low-dose CT scans and standard chest x-rays.
  • The trial found 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths among participants screened with low-dose CT.
Low-dose CT-based lung cancer screening can be a key component in the early detection process. And with early detection, 85 percent of cancers can be found in the earliest, most curable stages.

How does the lung screening process work?

The Kalispell Regional Healthcare pulmonary team of physicians, radiologists and nurses are committed and equipped to partner with you every step of the way — from consultation to imaging to treatment (if necessary).

We personalize your care based on your specific situation and a shared decision-making process:
  • First, have your risk evaluated.
  • If a low-dose CT scan is appropriate, the pulmonologist or your primary care physician will order the test.
  • The scan generally takes about 30 minutes.
  • Your scan will be read by a radiologist. Positive findings will be reviewed by the multispecialty pulmonary team and an appointment will be scheduled at the clinic for you to review the findings with a pulmonologist.
  • A nurse navigator will coordinate any follow-up appointments. 
If you are interested in a lung cancer screening, call our lung screening hotline at (406) 212-1739. Our staff will review your risk with you and determine if a low-dose CT scan is appropriate for you.

What will happen during my screening visit?

Man hiking Here’s what you can expect:
  • You will meet with the clinic registered nurse or pulmonologist and receive a thorough risk assessment evaluation.
  • Your options will be discussed with you.
  • You will receive information on smoking cessation.
  • If you decide to be screened, a low-dose CT scan will be scheduled for you.

What will happen if something is found?

If something found needs further evaluation, the pulmonologist will review your imaging with the multidisciplinary team to determine the next steps. This will be presented to you to assist you with making your decision on your care plan. The care plan would then be managed by the pulmonologist to ensure you receive timely, coordinated care.

Will my insurance cover this screening?

Lung cancer screening is covered by most insurance plans and Medicare. It is always a good idea to check with your carrier regarding your specific coverage.