The subject can't be brought up enough for us EX smokers.
(Warning this is a bit of a rant.) Thanks to more and more people in our quit family here (especially Thomas3.20.2010) I finally had my LDCT screening last Friday. I had to really fight to get this done. Took months. Literally. Our docs office is none too swift. First (since my husband seemed unable to get one done through our mutual GP), I thought I'd just go to his pulmonologist, because he had one ordered through her and mentioned me and she said, "sure have her make an appointment." Then when I called her office I was told I needed a referral. So I called my GP for a referral. No, I had to come in in order to get a referral, couldn't do it over the phone. OK, FINE! I can play that game. Fortunately I have Medicare and a good secondary insurance. They asked me who I wanted to see at my doctor's office. I was a bit terse on the phone. I said, "I don't care who I see, I suspect that given the fact that I have a 35+ year smoking history and a diagnosis from YOUR OFFICE of mild COPD, that it shouldn't matter who I see to get this set up.
Go in, meet with one of the Nurse Practitioners there to discuss getting an order for an x-ray on my foot and my hand because they've been bothering me for months, AND for a referral to the pulmonologist in order to get set up for this LDCT scan. She said I didn't need to see a pulmo for that, she could set it up herself. I'm surprised, but great! I wait to hear and I hear nada for a week. Call. "What's happening?" Apparently nothing. So I encourage them to "get 'er done." No calls come in. I call back a week later. "What's happening?" I'm told that the NP should have known that a special FORM was needed to be filled out. Well, I guess she didn't know that. So I go in and get a copy of the FORM, fill it out and then am still waiting for a response call a week later. Call number 3. "What's happening?" Well she's been on vacation for two weeks. I finally went in to meet with her back-from-vacation self to get the diagnosis from the Xrays (isn't there ANYBODY ELSE, like my GP whom I've gone to for 9 years that could read the diagnosis to me and discuss it? Apparently - NO. ) and I inquire AGAIN about getting the LDCT scan. She says something about knowing someone at the hospital who handles the scheduling of these and will let me know.
Finally get a call from a woman who says essentially that because my NP called her - though she no longer does the scheduling for the scans, but because I somehow fell through the cracks (in other words somebody really effed up) - I should contact so and so. So I contact "so and so" and FINALLY get it set up.
Had it done a week ago and the NP is on vacation AGAIN, so needless to say no calls came in the past week to tell me of the diagnosis. The diagnosis is usually ready within 48 hours. So I went to the records department at the hospital and got a copy of the diagnosis. Not that I'm an expert in reading diagnoses, but the finding state: "no noncalcified pulmonary nodules. Lung RADS category 1 - negative. Misc.: coronary artery calcifications - no acute intrathoracic pathology." Recommendation - come back for another screening in a year. To me this is good news, except for the coronary artery calcifications. But then that's kind of to be expected if you're a smoker. Smoking not only affects the lungs but the heart!
Why am I going on at length about this process? Because some of you may also have to go through the difficulty of setting up this scan. And education is a great teacher. And shall we say PURSUE IT AND PERSEVERE.
The form you fill out is very basic. There are certain parameters that enable one to get this low dose CT lung scan for FREE. At least here in Tennessee but I think it's probably standard across the board (If the inline image below doesn't show up, please let me know):
One of the things I learned was that (at least with my local hospital) it's based on a Government grant. I wasn't told the specific purpose of the grant (one can easily surmise), but that once the money runs out, the screening will no longer be free. So my suggestion would be to get it done sooner than later if you can. Not only because at the moment it's free, but it can also be a life saver. Look at strudel and marciem as an example. Early detection saves lives.
It's a real simple scan - lying flat on a table, your clothes are on, arms over your head, you hold your breath as the machine does a fairly rapid, smooth pass over your chest. "The entire chest is scanned in about 7 to 15 seconds during a single breath-hold." (Source) The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.