The new guidelines expand lung cancer screening eligibility to 94 million Americans.

A lung cancer screening and surveillance task force led by a Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) physician team, and established by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), is strongly recommending new lung cancer screening guidelines that promote the expanded use of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans.

Based on recent research showing that low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening can help reduce lung cancer deaths, the task force is now recommending annual LDCT lung cancer screening for the following patients:

  • Smokers and former smokers between the ages of 55 and 79 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.
  • Smokers and former smokers between the ages of 50 and 79 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years and have other factors that raise their risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Long-term lung cancer survivors up to the age of 79 (to detect a second case of primary lung cancer).

The new guidelines include screening for patients up to the age of 79, while other societies only recommend screening for patients up to the age of 74.  The new recommendations are also unique in that they address lung cancer survivors, not just patients who’ve never been diagnosed with lung cancer. Using these expanded parameters, 94 million Americans would be eligible for lung cancer screening.

“Lung cancer is an epidemic with over a quarter of a million new cases each year,” explains Dr. Michael Jaklitsch, a thoracic surgeon at BWH and a co-chair of the task force. “Now, for the first time in history, there is a clear screening tool that identifies early stages of lung cancer, when treatment is most successful.  Our analysis shows low-dose CT scans to be safe and very cost efficient.  Lung cancer screening will save lives, save lungs, and inspire many Americans to quit smoking.”

Visit the online Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery for the complete guidelines.

– Chris P/Tom L

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