Detecting lung cancer has a surprising side effect: The possibility of surviving lung cancer

Until now, there has been no reliable way to detect lung cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. With no symptoms and no reason to check, early detection had been nearly impossible. Now, a low-dose CT scan can lower the risk of death from lung cancer by 20% in high-risk patients.

From one smoker to another

We know. Finding out what smoking may have done to your lungs can be as difficult as quitting smoking in the first place. Our lung cancer screening can help you figure out what’s next. And knowing can help you start healing.

Where can I get screened?

All four of our Main Line Health hospitals as well as our outpatient Health Centers can conduct a low-dose CT scan. Find the location nearest you.

What to expect from a CT scan

Low-dose CT is a painless, non-invasive test that does not require blood work nor an IV. Here’s how it will go:

  • You will change into a patient gown and lay flat on the scanning table.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath during the scan.
  • The entire scan will take about 20 seconds.
  • A Main Line Health radiologist will read your scan and provide results within 24 hours.

What if the scan finds something?

A suspicious result means that there is an abnormal finding; further diagnostic testing may be required to know for sure if it’s cancer or something else. Your nurse navigator will follow up immediately with a suggested plan.

What if the scan says I’m all clear?

A negative result can be a true relief. We encourage all high-risk patients to repeat this test once a year for two more years.


  • Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the United States –more than breast, colon & prostate cancers combined.
  • Lung cancer is the most preventable cancer in the world.
  • An oncology nurse navigator is a professional registered nurse with cancer-specific clinical knowledge and is a continuous point of contact throughout the entire cancer care journey.
  • Lung cancer can be survivable: hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have lived happily beyond diagnosis.

What else should I know about low-dose CT scans?

What are the risks of getting a CT scan?

Only low-dose CT scans (versus chest X-rays) are recommended for screening. There is some radiation risk with a CT scan, and some results may lead to additional tests and procedures with their own risk factors. However, for high-risk patients, the benefits of a low-dose CT scan far outweigh the risks, including the possibility of detecting lung cancer at a curable stage.

Does insurance cover a CT scan to screen for lung cancer?

To qualify for private insurance coverage of a lung screening, you must meet these criteria:
  • Be between the ages of 50 and 74
  • Smoked at least one pack per day for 20 years or two packs for 10 years
  • Have one additional risk factor, such as:
    • Personal history of cancer other than lung cancer
    • History of chronic lung disease
    • Radon exposure
    • Occupational exposure to carcinogens

However, if you don’t qualify for insurance coverage, but you and your doctor agree you’d benefit from our low-dose CT scan, you can still schedule a screening and pay out-of-pocket. Our nurse navigator will explain the steps involved, including getting a prescription from your primary doctor.

Where can I get a lung cancer screening at Main Line Health?

The Lung Team at Main Line Health

A lung cancer diagnosis can be devastating news--but catching it early means we could treat it. Our multidisciplinary team includes medical and radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, pulmonary interventionists, specialized nurses, radiologists, respiratory therapists, palliative care experts and physical therapists throughout the entire Main Line Health system.

On that team, perhaps most meaningful is an oncology nurse navigator who would become your personal assistant, educator and advocate throughout scheduling, treatment, recovery and more.

Finding lung cancer before anyone even suspects lung cancer

The Lung Nodule Program At Main Line Health

Every year more than 150,000 patients, either through routine doctor visits or unrelated X-ray and CT scans, are diagnosed with pulmonary intermediate nodules. We act on the accidental discoveries of these tiny abnormalities that could prove cancerous:

  • We schedule the lung cancer low-dose CT scan and a reading by a chest radiologist and thoracic surgeon
  • If further testing or treatment is required, an advanced practice nurse will develop an individual care plan
  • We will also schedule follow-up lung scans for the following two years

If you are a chronic sufferer of lung diseases like bronchitis you could benefit from a low-dose CT scan. Talk to your doctor about getting a referral for a screening.

Need more information about the lung screening?

Call 484.565.LUNG and a nurse navigator will help schedule your screening, including getting a prescription from your primary doctor.