Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening


The Cancer Institute offers lung cancer screenings with the use of a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan. The test is recommended for those at high risk for lung cancer.

Ideal candidates for this screening are as follows:

  • Adults from 50-80 years old
  • Current heavy smokers with a smoking history of 20 pack years (one pack/day for 20 years, two packs/day for 10 years, etc.)
  • Former heavy smokers who have quit within the previous 15 years
  • No symptoms for lung cancer (i.e. shortness of breath, unusual or persistent chest/back pain, coughing up blood)
  • Have not undergone a chest CT within 12 months

If you have previously been diagnosed with lung cancer or have symptoms of lung cancer (i.e. shortness of breath, usual or persistent chest/back pain, coughing up blood) please see your physician.

The lung cancer screening program offered at The University of Tennessee Medical Center has been modeled after the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) and based on the current National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. The results of the NLST have proven the benefit of lung cancer screening in decreasing mortality for those at high risk for lung cancer.

“Screening with a low-dose CT is the first hope we’ve had in catching lung cancer early enough to improve survival rates. Having this screening now available in Knoxville, at the UT Medical Center, provides a great service to our community,” states Thomas Gaines, MD, FACS, chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery.

What Is a Low-Dose CT Scan?

Computed tomography of the chest takes high-resolution pictures of the lungs, which allows physicians to detect any abnormal spots/nodules on the lungs. Many of these spots are too small to see on a standard x-ray. Low-dose means that this screening test uses much less than the regular dose of radiation for a typical CT scan, usually between one-fifth and one-half less radiation.

The benefits of low-dose CT include possibly picking up a cancer very early in the process, therefore saving lives. Risks of screening may include having unnecessary medical tests, biopsies, and other procedures as a result of a nodule found at the time of screening that eventually turns out to be non-cancerous.

To Schedule a Screening

To schedule a lung cancer screening CT appointment, contact your primary care provider or other provider and request that they order a Low Dose CT Lung screening scan. Orders can be faxed to 865-305-2374 and someone from the office will contact the patient to discuss scheduling.

Testing is available on the campus of The University of Tennessee Medical Center in Building E, and at several different UT outpatient diagnostic centers including: Lenoir City, Northshore, Turkey Creek, and Sevierville. An order from your physician is required prior to scheduling the exam.

Candidates should be screened every year or until they have not smoked for 15 years, or have health problems that limit life expectancy or the ability to have treatment for lung cancer.


Lung cancer screenings are covered by Medicare, Tenncare and most other insurance. Most insurance companies cover this procedure as a preventative screening with little or no cost to the patient. For patients without insurance the cost is $199 payable on the day of service.


All patients screened will have their results sent to the ordering provider. For those with abnormal findings, the provider or patient can request a referral to the Thoracic Oncology Service for further follow-up.