Lung Cancer Screening Program

Contact us

Swedish Thoracic Surgery / First Hill

See all

Why Is Lung Cancer Screening Important?

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States causing more deaths than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined [1]. It is estimated that over 226,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year [2].

Unfortunately, lung cancer has traditionally been undetectable until it has reached a late, often incurable stage. Yet with advances in technology and cancer research, there are now proven and effective ways to screen for lung cancer at its earliest stages. This is important because early detection and treatment for lung cancer results in higher survival rates. In other words: Lung cancer screening saves lives.

Screening for lung cancer using a low-dose CT scan has been shown to detect cancer at an earlier stage and has been proven to increase the number of individuals who survive lung cancer compared to other methods of screening. In fact, results from a recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health called the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) showed that screening for lung cancer using a low-dose CT scan was associated with a 20% lower risk of dying from lung cancer as compared to screening using traditional chest X-rays. This 20% decrease in deaths is due to finding the cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage, even before symptoms begin. Read more about the NLST [3].

Many national organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American College of Chest Physicians are now cautiously supporting lung cancer screening for high risk individuals if it is done in an experienced center with a multidisciplinary team approach. With over twelve years of experience, the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) is the most experienced organization in the region at performing low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening. The Swedish Lung Cancer Screening Program includes a multidisciplinary team that is committed to the health, safety, and well-being of patients.

What Does the Lung Cancer Screening Program Offer Me?

Our program offers a comprehensive, face-to-face, tobacco related disease evaluation and risk assessment. Once your screening CT scan is complete your results will be reviewed by members of our multidisciplinary team who have expertise in treating lung cancer. You will have a follow-up visit scheduled to review the CT results, discuss what the results mean for you and make a plan with your provider for further care, if any is recommended. Additionally, since quitting smoking is the best way to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, as well as other diseases, you will also be offered smoking cessation counseling, treatment, if you are currently smoking.

Lung cancer screening is now a national preventive health recommendation and covered by all insurance companies for people who meet the eligibility criteria. We are here to partner with you, in your lung cancer screening journey.

Should I Get Screened for Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer screening is recommended for individuals who:

  1. Are between 55 and 80 years of age* AND
  2. Have a 30 or more "pack year" history of smoking** AND
  3. Either currently smoke or have quit smoking within the last 15 years

*For individuals over the age of 80, a low-dose CT scan for lung cancer screening may still be appropriate and should be discussed with a member of the Swedish Lung Cancer Screening Program team.

**A pack year is a way of measuring the amount of smoking an individual has done over a period of time. A 30-pack year history of smoking is equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years.

To Calculate Your Number of Pack Years:

Number of pack years = (number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day) X (number of years smoking) OR

Number of pack years = (number of cigarettes smoked per day) X (number of years smoking)/20***

***This calculation may be easier for individuals who do not have a history of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes per day. The calculation includes a division by 20 because there are 20 cigarettes in a pack.

Although there are many other risk factors associated with lung cancer, smoking continues to be the leading cause of lung cancer. Low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening have been shown to be effective in individuals between 55 and 74 years of age with a history of smoking [4].

How Do I Learn More and Schedule an Appointment?

If you are interested in learning more or to schedule an appointment you can call 206-386-6800, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

[1]. CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Lung Cancer Statistics. [July 20, 2012]; Available from:

[2]. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Lung Cancer. [July 20, 2012]; Available from:

[3]. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). [July 20, 2012]; Available from:

[4]. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Screening Guidelines: Lung Cancer. [July 20, 2012]; Available from: