The release of the new evidence-based recommendations for the use of computed tomography (CT) scans for the early detection of lung cancer will help physicians and those concerned about their risk for lung cancer determine if screening is right for them.
The guidelines, developed by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommend the following use of CT scans for people who smoke or have quit smoking:
Yearly screening with a low-dose CT scan should be offered instead of screening with a chest x-ray or no screening for people age 55 to 74 who have smoked for 30 pack years or more who either continue to smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. (A pack year is the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked. For example, smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years both equal 30 pack years.)
- CT screening is not recommended for people who have smoked for less than 30 pack years, are younger than 55 or older than 74, or for individuals who have quit smoking more than 15 years ago.
“The guidelines released by ACCP and ASCO provide new and updated guidance critical to helping physicians and people at high risk for lung cancer understand when screening is appropriate,” said Regina Vidaver, PhD, executive director of the National Lung Cancer Partnership. “It is our hope that current screening options and future advances in screening for the substantial number of lung cancers that occur outside of this recognized high risk group will help significantly increase lung cancer survival rates.”
In addition to the new guidelines, a systematic research review on lung cancer screening was led by ACCP, ASCO, the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer network with input from the American Thoracic Society. The review and guidelines were published online ahead of publication on May 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“The Partnership will continue to advocate for and fund research into additional screening methods, such as blood, sputum, breath and other tests that may help us further identify those people who are at greatest risk for the disease,” said Dr. Vidaver. “Research funding can save lives, and it’s time for a historic investment in lung cancer research to finally turn the tide for this disease.”
The Partnership also promotes and directly funds needed research into improving our understanding of lung cancer, its basic biology, risk factors, and how to prevent and treat the disease, which takes more lives each year than breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined.