Harvard Men's Health Watch

20-second CT scan cuts lung cancer deaths, but is it right for you?

Having a CT scan to detect early stage lung cancer prevents death in current or former smokers at high risk of developing lung cancer. Early testing and treatment includes potential harms as well as benefits. Insurance will probably not pay the cost of the first CT scan to check for signs of cancer. If the scan shows a suspicious feature, repeat tests and procedures may be necessary to diagnose cancer. During the follow-up period, the possibility of having cancer can cause anxiety and fear in some people. CT scans add to your lifetime exposure of radiation and the associated long-term risk of cancer. Talk to your doctor before seeking the test.
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