ACS Update. Expanded lung cancer screening for 5 million americans

02.11.2023 posted by Admin

ACS updates lung cancer screening. 5 million more eligible

An updated guideline from the American Cancer Society (ACS), released on Wednesday, suggests that nearly 5 million more Americans should consider screening for lung cancer. This marks the first change in their screening recommendations in ten years. The revised guidelines recommend yearly low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans for individuals between the ages of 50 and 80 who either currently smoke or have a history of smoking (equivalent to 20 or more pack-years).

To clarify, a pack-year represents smoking one pack, or roughly 20 cigarettes, per day for a year. For example, someone who smoked two packs daily for ten years or one pack daily for twenty years both have a 20 pack-year history. CT scans use X-rays to create detailed images of the chest, specifically the lungs, allowing early detection of potentially cancerous areas even before symptoms manifest.

The previous recommendation, dating back to 2013, limited screening to adults aged 55 to 74 with at least a 30 pack-year smoking history, including current smokers or those who had quit within the last 15 years. However, the updated guidelines no longer consider the number of years since quitting as an eligibility criterion for screening.

It's important to note that while quitting smoking does reduce the risk of lung cancer over time compared to continued smoking, the risk remains higher than in individuals who have never smoked, as stated by the ACS. Lung cancer is a prevalent form of cancer in both men and women, accounting for 20 percent of all cancer-related deaths. While the death rate has been decreasing due to anti-tobacco efforts, it still poses a significant threat.

In 2023, the ACS projects approximately 240,000 new cases of lung cancer and around 127,000 deaths from the disease, with cigarette smoking contributing to roughly 80 percent of these cases. The ACS emphasizes that many of these deaths could be prevented if eligible individuals undergo annual lung cancer screening.

The updated ACS recommendation now aligns more closely with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of medical experts. The USPSTF recommends annual low-dose CT screening for lung cancer in adults aged 50 to 80 who have a 20 pack-year smoking history. As a result of the task force's endorsement, most insurance providers are required to cover these screenings without imposing additional costs on patients. However, the USPSTF's recommendation only extends to individuals who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
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