Recently, the American Cancer Society announced its revised lung cancer screening guidelines for heavy smokers. In summary, it recommends that doctors discuss lung cancer screenings with people in relatively good health who meet certain criteria that put them at risk for developing the disease:
- Ages 55-74
- At least a 30-year history of pack-a-day cigarette smoking
- Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
If you believe you may be at risk, you and your doctor should discuss all the known benefits and known harms associated with lung cancer screening. If you decide to be screened, the recommendation specifies that testing should be done with a low dose computed tomography (CT) scan and take place at a facility with experience in lung cancer screening. Learn about lung cancer screening at U-M.
The guidelines were strongly influenced by a 2011 National Lung Screening Trial that studied 53,454 men and women in good health, aged 55 and over and at high risk of lung cancer because of their smoking history. The study found that CT scans for those at high risk did, in fact, detect more cancers earlier, saving lives. However, since some of the follow-up diagnostic tests can carry risk, the American Cancer Society does not recommend screening for those at lower risk.