The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPST) has updated its recommended guidance for annual low-dose CT scans for early detection of lung cancer to younger people with shorter smoking histories.
The new guidelines recommend screenings for people over 50 (prior recommendations were for those 55 plus) and who smoke at least 20 “pack-years” and either still smoke or quit within the last 15 years. A “pack-year” means smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for a year, or an equivalent amount (i.e. two packs for 10 years). The pack year recommendation is now lower than the previous guideline of 30 pack-years.
The recommendations published in the Journal of the American Medical Association will greatly expand the pool of people eligible for this screening.
“Lung cancer is the nation’s top cancer killer,” said Andrew Martin, MD, Chair, Pulmonary Medicine at Deborah Heart and Lung Center. “Smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer. Quitting is the best prevention, but if you are a current or former smoker, this annual screening could be a life-saver. Too often lung cancer is diagnosed too late. When caught early, the chances of survivability from this disease goes up dramatically.”
Dr. Martin urges anyone who meets the new criteria to schedule an appointment for the low-dose CT scan.
“This recommendation change is welcome news for the many smokers, and former smokers, who are at risk. The screening is painless and quick and can provide both peace of mind and early disease detection.”
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