Lung Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

What is lung screening and why are they important?

Lung screening is important for several reasons, primarily related to early detection and prevention of lung-related diseases, especially lung cancer. Detection of Other Lung Conditions: Lung screening may also detect other lung-related conditions besides lung cancer, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary nodules. Early detection of these conditions can lead to timely management and better health outcomes.

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Screening is a life-saving tool in the fight against cancer, helping us find the disease in its early stages when it can be more successfully treated. Lung cancer patients are actually almost 10 times as likely to live longer when they are diagnosed and treated early.

Lung cancer screening is easy, accessible, painless and generally covered by insurance (most insurance companies cover the cost of a low-dose CT scan).

Who Should Be Screened?

How Pack Years Are Calculated

A pack year is the number of packs of cigarettes a person smoked per day, multiplied by the number of years they have smoked. For example, 20 pack years could include 20 years where you smoked one pack a day OR 10 years where you smoked two packs a day.

What to Expect

A referral for a lung cancer screening could come from different sources – your primary care provider, pulmonologist or other specialist – who will determine if you’re eligible and if a scan is right for you. You will need a separate appointment for the scan.

Lung cancer screening consists of having a low-dose CT scan of the chest every year. The scan provides detailed images to identify any changes or abnormalities for follow-up. 

A low-dose CT exposes patients to only 10% of the radiation compared to a regular CT scan. The scanner is an open machine, so patients do not feel claustrophobic. The scan only takes a few minutes, is pain-free, and does not involve needles, shots, or injections.

Smoking Cessation Support

Hartford HealthCare’s “STOP Smoking & Vaping Cessation Program” offers in-person and virtual options for smoking cessation.

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute

Looking Out for Lung Cancer

Daniel Walker, MD, Thoracic Surgeon, Hartford HealthCare Medical Group discusses signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Screening

What happens during a screening for lung cancer.

What Happens After Your Screening

An expert radiologist will review your low-dose CT scan, and you will be contacted with your results. If there are normal findings, be sure to schedule your annual screening for next year.

If any findings need additional review, a nurse navigator will help you with the next steps and connect you to our lung specialists.

Insurance information

Most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of a low-dose CT scan annually. However, the cost is subject to approval from your healthcare insurance provider. Our team can help find payment options for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.


Some patients with more advanced lung cancer might be considered for clinical research trials into new treatments. Talk with your specialist about options.

Lung Screening Locations

Screening locations are conveniently located throughout Connecticut.

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Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute