There’s new hope for diagnosing lung cancer early and saving lives. New draft recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force cite promising results from yearly screening with low dose CT scans -- computed tomography -- to detect cancer early and increase lung cancer survival rates.
All smokers 55 to 79, with at least 30 pack years of tobacco use should be screened, even if they quit in the past 15 years. A pack year is smoking 20 cigarettes a day for a year, or the equivalent.
The recommendation is based on review of 67 articles and several clinical trials,] the largest being the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, which found chest X-rays not as useful as CT scans for catching lung cancer early.
Lung cancer kills nearly 160,000 people a year -- more people than colon, breast, pancreas, and prostate cancer combined. 85% of the time, smoking’s the cause.
These CT scan screenings are no substitute for not smoking. The new guidelines discuss the benefits of smoking cessation programs, and advances in how to get people to quit.
The good news is, declining smoking rates have led to lower lung cancer rates.