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Advisers Want Bigger CT Lung Screening Pool

June 25, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Chest Radiology
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A new task force strongly recommends expanding the guidelines for low-dose CT lung cancer screening, potentially expanding eligibility to include up to 94 million Americans.

In practice, the screening pool wouldn’t be that large because the recommendations also would exclude people with conditions that would preclude successful lung cancer treatment.

The lung screening and surveillance task force was established and funded by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. Medical professionals from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston led it. Francine Jacobson, MD, a thoracic radiologist at the hospital, was co-chair. She said the reasoning behind the recommendation was simple:

Low-dose CT scanning has been proven to save lives. I hope this recommendation will encourage physicians to use low-dose CT scanning for a broader range of patients.

Dr. Jacobson was quoted in a Brigham and Women’s news release. The guidelines, and the reasoning behind them, were published online last week in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

The task force recommends annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening for:

  • Smokers and former smokers age 55 to 79 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.
  • Smokers and former smokers age 50 to 79 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years and have other risk factors for lung cancer.
  • Long-term lung cancer survivors up to the age of 79.

What’s new about these recommendations is extending the maximum age up from 74 to 79 and including lung-cancer survivors (to detect a second case of primary lung cancer). According to the news release, the task force based its recommendations on a review of U.S. and European screening trials, an examination of current literature, and discussions of clinical practices.

“Lung cancer is an epidemic with over a quarter of a million new cases each year,” said Michael Jaklitsch, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s and co-chair of the task force. “Now, for the first time in history, there is a clear screening tool that identifies early stages of lung cancer, when treatment is most successful. Our analysis shows this tool of low-dose CT scans to be very safe and very cost efficient. Lung cancer screening will save lives, save lungs, and inspire many Americans to quit smoking.”

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One Response to “Advisers Want Bigger CT Lung Screening Pool”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Lung CT Screening For Veterans Coming Soon on August 29th, 2012 at 10:02 am

    […] The National Lung Screening Trial, which ended last year, found that those at high risk of lung cancer were 20 percent less likely to die if screened with low-dose CT scans compared to simple X-rays. Since then, a screening protocol has been evolving piecemeal, with competing ideas about, among other things, who should get screened and whether insurance should cover it, as we’ve been reporting. […]