What to Do if You Are at High Risk for Lung Cancer and When to Talk to Your Doctor

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, so learning that you are at high risk for lung cancer can be a stressful and frightening ordeal. Fortunately, when you talk to your doctor they can help you understand your risk and discuss if screening is right for you.

When to ask your doctor about lung cancer screening

If you have reviewed the following criteria or have taken our risk quiz and determined that you may be at high risk for lung cancer, you should talk with your doctor about lung cancer screening.

  • You are between 55 through 80 years old. (Or between 55 and 77 years old if you are on Medicare).
  • You have a 30 pack-year history of smoking (this means 1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)
  • You are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years.

Benefits of talking to your doctor

  • If you are unsure if lung cancer screening is right for you, your doctor can counsel you on the benefits vs. the risks and what you can expect. You can work together to make a decision about whether or not you should be screened. Use this doctor discussion guide to get the conversation started with your doctor about screening.
  • Doctors can also educate you about other risk factors for lung cancer, like exposure to radon or air pollution and family history. However, there are currently no screening guidelines for these risk factors.

Talk to an expert

Our Lung Cancer HelpLine is staffed by registered nurses and respiratory therapists ready to help you in any way possible. Call 1-800-LUNGUSA or send a message online.

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Download a printable version of the Doctor Discussion Guide. Download PDF