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Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines Change

March 10, 2021 • 11:02 am CST
(Vax Before Cancer)

To update its 2013 recommendation, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) commissioned a systematic review on the accuracy of screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) and on the benefits and harms of screening for lung cancer, reported a study published by the JAMA on March 9, 2021.

The USPSTF announced it now recommends annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT in adults aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Furthermore, screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery.

The USPSTF concluded with moderate certainty that annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT has a moderate net benefit in persons at high risk of lung cancer based on age, total cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke, and years since quitting smoking.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the US. In 2020, an estimated 228 820 persons were diagnosed with lung cancer, and 135 720 persons died of the disease.1

The most important risk factor for lung cancer is smoking.2,3 Smoking is estimated to account for about 90% of all lung cancer cases, with a relative risk of lung cancer approximately 20-fold higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.3 Increasing age is also a risk factor for lung cancer. The median age of diagnosis of lung cancer is 70 years.

Lung cancer has a generally poor prognosis, with an overall 5-year survival rate of 20.5%. However, early-stage lung cancer has a better prognosis and is more amenable to treatment.