$99 lung cancer screenings offered at HCMC

by Hennepin Healthcare

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is offering $99 lung cancer screening for people who may be concerned that they are at risk for the disease. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the USA, and it kills more patients every year than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined.

Dr. Gopal Punjabi

Dr. Gopal Punjabi

“We know that by the time lung cancer causes symptoms like cough and chest pain, it’s usually advanced and has spread to other organs,” explains radiologist Dr. Gopal Punjabi. “For years, there has been tremendous interest in catching lung cancer early, so this test is a very important development.” If you’re between the ages of 55 and 79 and you smoked for more than 30 years, or you quit less than 15 years ago, you may be eligible for this low-cost, low-dose CT scan.

A doctor’s order is not required; however, patients should discuss this test with their doctor. If they do not have a primary care provider, they can call 612.873.2065 and the CT scan can be ordered after making sure the criteria is met. It’s a simple scan – taking around 5 seconds – that does not require an intravenous (IV) contrast.  A radiologist reviews the scan right away, and real-time results are available to patients if they don’t want to wait.

It is quite common (25-40%) to find small nodules, most of which will not be cancer. Followup recommendations are made for patients if nodules are found, and if none are found, patients are encouraged to receive annual scans until age 80 or if they have not smoked for 15 years.

radiology tech with patient and CT scan machine

The low-dose CT scans take about 5 seconds.

This specific type of CT scan uses low-dose imaging and can only detect lung nodules. If a nodule is found, follow up care can be covered by the patient’s insurance plan.

“We can scan you, but there’s no health benefit if you don’t quit smoking,” says Dr. Punjabi. “Quitting smoking is the best way to decrease the risk for developing lung cancer.” For those patients who need help with smoking cessation, HCMC also offers counseling, treatment, and referral services.

Call HCMC’s Radiology Department at 612.873.2065 for more information about this low-cost, low-dose CT scan for lung cancer. The test is currently not covered by insurance and will cost $99. For more information, go to hcmc.org.