Spotting Lung Cancer Early


Robert Malone, MD,  Medical Director of Radiology

Robert Malone, MD,
Medical Director of Radiology

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among men and women in the United States. More people die each year of lung cancer than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Despite new diagnostic techniques, most patients are still diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease. Lung cancer screenings help high-risk individuals receive a diagnosis and treatment plan at an early stage, when the disease is easier to treat and possibly cure.

Current or former smokers may be eligible for lung cancer screenings that Medicare and private insurance now cover. Following a United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation, insurers this year began covering annual low-dose radiation computerized tomography (CT) scans for certain patients.

Q: Who is eligible for screening?

A: Individuals 55 to 77 years of age who currently smoke or have quit smoking in the past 15 years, have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” – an average of one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc. – and receive a written order from a physician.

Q: Does insurance cover the cost?

A: Lung cancer screenings are covered for eligible patients by private insurance and Medicare, but a copay or deductible may apply. Medicare requires providers to include smoking cessation counseling prior to the scan. Call your insurance company for more information. Cost for self-pay is $225.

Q: What happens during

     screening?

A: A CT machine using low-dose radiation scans and takes images of the lungs while patients lie on a table.

“Aside from giving up cigarettes, lung cancer screening with CT is the most significant development in reducing deaths from lung cancer,” said Robert Malone, MD, Medical Director of Radiology at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Through screenings, we can detect lung cancer when it is small – long before it becomes symptomatic or spreads outside the lungs.”

Call Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s nurse navigator at 281-276-8549 or visit houstonmethodist.org/lung-screening for more information.


Free Lung Cancer Awareness Event

Visit Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Conference Center on Thursday, November 12th at 6 pm to learn more about the risks, screening, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. A short discussion led by a lung cancer expert will be followed by an opportunity to speak one-on-one with members of the lung cancer team to determine if lung screening is needed. Registration is required. Register online at houstonmethodist.org/events or call 281-274-7500.