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You Should Be Scanned for Lung Cancer if You've Done This, Panel Says

“Adults aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history” and who currently smoke make the list.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
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Big news for smokers and even non-smokers: The eligibility for a lung exam should expand, according to March statement from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. "Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the US," they say. "In 2020, an estimated 228,820 persons were diagnosed with lung cancer, and 135 ,720 persons died of the disease." Their new recommendations are meant to bring equity to testing. Read on to see if you're eligible—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It

1

The Task Force Recommends Annual Screenings Now for This Group of People

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"The USPSTF 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. 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. This recommendation replaces the 2013 USPSTF statement that recommended annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years."

2

The Task Force Says Smoking the Number One Cause

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"The most important risk factor for lung cancer is smoking," they say. "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. 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."

3

There is a Net Benefit to Screening

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"The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes 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," says the Task Force. "The moderate net benefit of screening depends on limiting screening to persons at high risk, the accuracy of image interpretation being similar to or better than that found in clinical trials, and the resolution of most false-positive results with serial imaging rather than invasive procedures."

4

Black Men Have a Higher Incidence of Lung Cancer

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"African American/Black (Black) men have a higher incidence of lung cancer than White men, and Black women have a lower incidence than White women," says the Task Force. "These differences are likely related to differences in smoking exposure (ie, prevalence of smoking) and related exposure to carcinogens in cigarettes. The differences may also be related to other social risk factors."

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5

These are the Other Risk Factors of Lung Cancer

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"Other risk factors for lung cancer," say the Task Force, "include environmental exposures, prior radiation therapy, other (noncancer) lung diseases, and family history. Lower level of education is also associated with a higher risk of lung cancer. The task force recommends using age and smoking history to determine screening eligibility rather than more elaborate risk prediction models because there is insufficient evidence to assess whether risk prediction model–based screening would improve outcomes relative to using the risk factors of age and smoking history for broad implementation in primary care."

RELATED: The Easiest Way to Avoid a Heart Attack, Say Doctors

6

What to Do if You Need Care

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"As noted above, the USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT in adults aged 50 to 80 years who have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years." Contact your doctor if you feel you need a screening, And to protect your health, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.

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