Since 2000, Department of Energy (DOE) has made screening for occupational lung cancer with low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) scans available to workers at high risk for lung cancer. Because former workers undertook essential activities to fulfill the Department's mission, many of them were at risk for lung cancer. Through the FWP, DOE initiated the Early Lung Cancer Detection (ELCD) program using low-dose helical CT scans to detect lung cancers at an earlier, more treatable stage. Lung cancer results in about 160,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. The most common causes of lung cancer are long-term exposures to tobacco smoke and residential radon emissions, but occupational hazards, such as asbestos and ionizing radiation, also cause or contribute to the disease.

In 2000, the Worker Health Protection Program (WHPP), one of the Former Worker Medical Screening Program (FWP) projects that is administered by Queens College of the City University of New York in conjunction with the United Steelworkers, the Atomic Trades and Labor Council in Oak Ridge, and the Fernald Medical Screening Program,  began using low-dose helical CT scans to screen individuals who met established eligibility criteria, including a history of at-risk occupational exposure to lung carcinogens such as asbestos, beryllium, radioactive materials, nickel, and chromium. WHPP offers the ELCD program at the following DOE sites: Oak Ridge K-25, Paducah, and Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plants; Y-12 National Security Complex; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Mound Plant; Feed Materials Production Center (Fernald); Nevada National Security Site (formerly Nevada Test Site); and Idaho National Laboratory.

In addition, the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program (BTMed), a component of the FWP that is conducted by CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, began an ELCD program for former construction workers from the Oak Ridge Reservation.  In July 2013, BTMed began a similar program for former Hanford construction workers.

Also in July 2013, the National Supplemental Screening Program (NSSP), a component of the FWP that is conducted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities and their partners, began a pilot ELCD program in coordination with National Jewish Health in Denver, CO.  The pilot testing will include 100 participants.  By virtue of geographic proximity to the former Rocky Flats Plant, former workers from this site will likely comprise the majority of the participants in the pilot project, but workers from the NSSP’s other primary sites who are in the Denver metro area will be equally eligible to participate.

The ELCD program is also available through the Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant and Ames Lab Former Worker Programs conducted by the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA. Low dose helical CT scans are offered to former production, assembly, research and development workers at risk for lung cancer.  Screenings are conducted at health care facilities near the DOE sites in Burlington and Ames sites for the workers convenience.

Ultimately, the results of low-dose helical CT scans and medical examinations provide valuable insights to advance the scientific and public health communities' understanding of the health effects that may result from work-related exposures. This improved knowledge is likely to lead to enhanced safety and health measures that will better protect the current and future generation of workers.

Program Element:


Program Manager
Lokie Harmond