Harvard Men's Health Watch

Screening for lung cancer: Are you a candidate for this test?

For those who qualify, a low-dose CT scan to look for small tumors may be free of charge. Here's how it works.

An influential panel of experts on preventive health care, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), has issued a draft recommendation backing annual CT scans for current and former smokers at high risk of developing lung cancer. In lung cancer screening, an otherwise healthy person gets a CT scan to check for small tumors before they cause problems.

The USPSTF recommendation, when finalized, would obligate Medicare to pay the cost of the test. Private insurers would likely follow suit. That means millions of men who smoke now, or did so in the past, will be able to obtain screening at no cost.

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