VCU Massey Cancer Center


Lung cancer screening

The only one of its kind in the Richmond area, the Lung Cancer Screening Clinic at VCU Health provides a comprehensive patient experience for the early detection of lung cancer.

  • Overview

    Lung cancer screening saves lives

    Lung cancer screening Nana-Sinkam

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, but lung cancer is treatable and potentially curable if found early. If you are a long-term, heavy current or former smoker, age 55-80 years, your risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased, and a low-dose CT lung scan may help catch cancer early when it is most treatable.

    Virginia’s leading lung cancer screening program

    The Lung Cancer Screening Program at VCU Health was Virginia’s first American College of Radiology-Designated lung cancer screening center and is recognized by the Lung Cancer Alliance as the only Center of Excellence in Central Virginia. The clinic is led by experts in lung cancer screening and diagnosis, and our nurse navigator guides each patient through the screening process. The clinic is the only one in the region in which a dedicated pulmonologist meets with each patient to provide informed and shared decision making about lung cancer screening and to determine their individual lung cancer risk. If a scan is determined to be appropriate, it can be performed in the same clinic visit, and the pulmonologist will review the results with the patients immediately thereafter. This approach simplifies the referral process for primary care providers and involves patients in the decision-making process. The team is part of a multidisciplinary group of lung cancer experts at VCU Massey Cancer Center, who collaborate to offer the highest quality of cancer care if lung cancer is diagnosed.

    Call 804-827-LUNG (5864) to schedule an appointment.

  • Clinic

    One-of-a-kind comprehensive screening clinic

    Lung cancer screening Michelle with patient

    The Lung Cancer Screening Clinic at VCU Health is conveniently located at the VCU Health Stony Point Campus. When you schedule a screening appointment with our clinic, you receive:

    • One-on-one consultation with a board-certified and fellowship-trained pulmonologist that includes calculation of lung cancer risk and shared decision making about the benefit and risks of a lung scan, taking into account your personal values and preferences, to determine if a lung scan is appropriate for you 

    • Well-coordinated, efficient experience guided by a dedicated nurse navigator, who will, if needed, schedule any additional tests and appointments 

    • Fast and safe low-dose CT scan that takes only seven seconds to perform on state-of-the-art CT scanners that are optimized to provide the lowest dose of radiation possible
    • Immediate results with lung CT scans read and interpreted by onsite board-certified and fellowship-trained thoracic radiologists, providing expert assessment of your scan results
    • Review of results with a pulmonologist and, if needed, recommendations regarding further tests and follow-up appointments
    • Smoking cessation counseling, if needed

    If cancer is found in your scan, we’re among the best to help you fight it. VCU Massey Cancer Center is Virginia’s first and Richmond’s only cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute, which places us in the top 4 percent of cancer centers nationwide. At Massey, you can expect:

    • The area’s largest and most experienced multidisciplinary team of experts specializing in the treatment of lung cancer who all work together to develop the ideal combination and sequence of treatments for each patient
    • State-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge therapies, including immunotherapies and precision oncology tailored to your specific genetic mutations
    • Access to one of the largest selections of cancer clinical trials in Virginia, offering new and advanced treatments before they are available elsewhere
    • Compassionate care that is delivered in a supportive environment
    • Comprehensive support services that attend to your needs and the needs of your family

    Care center locations

    Lung Cancer Screening Clinic
    VCU Health Stony Point
    9000 Stony Point Parkway, Richmond, VA

    VCU Health Radiology
    VCU Medical Center
    MCV Campus, Richmond, VA

    To schedule an appointment for a lung cancer screening, please call (804) 827-LUNG (5864).

  • Specialists

    Leaders in lung cancer detection

    Lung cancer screening Parker Rezai-Gharai

    The VCU Health Lung Cancer Screening Clinic is led led by experts specializing in lung cancer screening and diagnosis. When you schedule a screening, our nurse navigator guides you through the entire screening process, coordinating medical records and insurance authorization, scheduling the scan, scheduling any necessary referrals and diagnostic procedures and ensuring access to resources such as smoking cessation counseling.

    Select from the list below to learn more about your care team and their education, training and specific areas of clinical expertise.

    Image - Mark Parker

    Mark S. Parker, M.D, F.A.C.R.
    Radiologist, director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program, co-section chief of Cardiothoracic Imaging
 and director of the Thoracic Imaging Fellowship at VCU Health Professor in the Department of Radiology at the VCU School of Medicine

    Image - Patrick Nana-Sinkam, M.D.

    Patrick Nana-Sinkam, M.D.
    Pulmonologist, Linda Grandis Blatt Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and member of the Cancer Cell Signaling and Cancer Prevention and Control research programs at VCU Massey Cancer Center
    Chair of and professor in the Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine

    Image - Michelle Futrell

    Michelle  Futrell, M.S.N., M.B.A., R.N.
    Lung cancer screening nurse navigator and program coordinator at VCU Health

  • Eligibility

    Are you at high risk of lung cancer?

    There are a variety of factors that influence your lung cancer risk. You will first consult with our pulmonologist to determine your individual risk before making a shared decision about whether or not to move forward with the lung scan.

    Based on data from the National Lung Screening Trial, eligibility guidelines have been developed by the following medical associations:

    • USPSTF guidelines: Age 55 to 80 years with 30-pack/year smoking history and current smoker or has quit within the last 15 years
    • Medicare guidelines: Age 55 to 77 years with 30-pack/year smoking history and current smoker or has quit within the last 15 years
    • National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines: Age 55 to 74 years with 30-pack/year smoking history and a current smoker or has quit within the last 15 years; OR age > 50 years with 20-pack/year smoking history with one additional risk factor such as radon exposure, occupational exposure, cancer history, family history of lunch cancer, disease history of COPD or pulmonary fibrosis

    There are several other risk factors for lung cancer that we assess, including:

    • age
    • ethnicity
    • socioeconomic status
    • body mass index
    • family history of lung cancer
    • COPD
    • duration of smoking history
    • exposure to radon and asbestos and other cancer-causing agents
    • previous radiation therapy to the lungs

    Lung cancer screening has broad insurance coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, and based upon the USPSTF recommendations, lung cancer screening with low-dose CT is now covered without cost for eligible Medicare beneficiaries and most eligible individuals with private insurance. For those who do not meet the guidelines but still may be at high risk for developing lung cancer, flexible self-pay options are available.

  • FAQs

    What is lung cancer screening?

    A cancer screening means testing for a cancer when there are no symptoms, clinical signs or history of cancer. Screening tests may find cancer early when it is most treatable.

    What is the benefit of lung cancer screening?

    One of the keys to more successful treatment of lung cancer is the early detection of the disease. Often, lung cancer is not detected until it is far advanced and has already compromised the function of one or more vital organs or has spread beyond the lung into other parts of the body. There are many types of lung cancer. Each type of lung cancer grows and spreads in different ways and is treated differently. The purpose of this screening chest CT scan is to detect and diagnose a potential lung cancer at a much earlier stage, before you develop symptoms, and at a time when you may have more effective and better treatment options. The images will be reviewed for the presence of lung nodules or masses (spots on the lung) or other abnormalities suspicious for lung cancer as well as other potentially important clinical findings.

    How is the lung cancer screening test performed?

    The screening test is performed with a low-dose spiral (helical) CT. The CT scanner rotates around your body, while you lie still on a table that passes through the center of the scanner. The CT scan provides detailed images of the inside of your body, made by a computer that combines the x-ray images taken from different angles. The screening CT can be performed with a single short breath-hold and takes about seven seconds. You may eat or drink immediately before and after this scan. An IV is not necessary. This test does not use any contrast media (dye).

    How much radiation will I receive during the screening chest CT?

    There is a small increased risk of developing some forms of cancer in persons exposed to high doses of radiation. However, the amount of radiation used with our current CT scanners is very small and poses a negligible risk of causing cancer. The amount of radiation associated with the low-dose CT scan is 90 percent less than what is used with a standard chest CT. For more information regarding radiation safety, visit the VCU Radiology Department website.

    How good is the screening chest CT in detecting possible lung cancer?

    Because no test is 100% accurate, it is important to understand the limitations of this screening study. It is possible that you may have an underlying medical condition, including lung cancer, that goes undetected on this screening chest CT. This is called a false negative. It is also possible that this screening CT exam may reveal findings that mimic or are suspicious for lung cancer when indeed you do not have lung cancer. This is called a false positive. In such cases, you may have to undergo additional imaging tests and even a possible biopsy, in which a piece of lung tissue is removed with a needle or during surgery, by a radiologist or thoracic surgeon to prove the finding seen on the screening chest CT is not a lung cancer. Lastly, the screening chest CT may reveal findings not related to your lungs that may require further work-up with additional diagnostic tests and imaging studies.

    Who will be interpreting the results of the lung cancer screening chest CT?

    The lung cancer screening chest CT will be reviewed and interpreted by one of our team of thoracic radiologists. A radiologist is a physician who has specialized training in obtaining and interpreting medical images, which makes him or her, an imaging expert. These images are obtained by using x-rays (radiographs, CT), sound waves (ultrasound), the body’s natural magnetism (MRI), or by the injection/inhalation of radioactive substances (nuclear medicine). A thoracic radiologist is a radiologist with advanced training who specializes in the diagnosis of diseases of the chest cavity (thorax and lungs). After reviewing and interpreting your screening chest CT, our thoracic radiologists will recommend either a follow-up annual screening CT or the need for further examinations or treatments. These results will be shared with your primary care physician (PCP) who ordered your screening chest CT scan. The thoracic radiologists can work together with your PCP to determine the best course of action for you. We also have a team of pulmonologists (lung doctors), thoracic surgeons (lung surgeons) and oncologists (cancer doctors) available should you need them.

    Can anyone help me stop smoking?

    Once you have started smoking, we know it can be very difficult to quit. We can provide smoking cessation counseling. Please contact:

    Michelle Futrell, M.S.N., M.B.A., R.N.
    Lung cancer screening nurse navigator and program coordinator

    Additional resources to help you quit smoking:

    Quit Now Virginia: 1-800-784-8669 and

    The National Cancer Institute: 1-800-4-CANCER

    The American Lung Association: 1-800-LUNG-USA

    The American Heart Association: 1-800-242-8721