Updated Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations Released

A task force released updated lung cancer screening recommendations, which includes lowering the age for eligibility. A doctor explains how the change could help save more lives.

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CLEVELAND – The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently changed their recommendations for lung cancer screening, which could help save more lives.

“Their update lowered the age limit from 55 to 50 and lowered the amount of smoking to 30 pack years down to 20 pack years. So their current recommendations would be ages 50 to 80, 20 pack year smoking history and you’ve smoked within the last 15 years,” said Peter Mazzone, MD, Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Mazzone said by lowering the age limit, the number of people eligible for screening would increase by 80 to 90 percent.

However, even though more individuals now qualify, he said they are still facing the challenge of getting them tested. He said that is due to a couple of factors. For example, some may be hesitant for fear of finding out they’re sick or they might not have insurance coverage.

Dr. Mazzone said that’s why it’s so important to continue raising awareness.

“What everyone needs to understand is that early detection of lung cancer leads to the potential for a cure and a much higher chance of curing the cancer if it’s found earlier. So the opportunity to do that and preserve your life is really, really critical,” Dr. Mazzone said.

Currently, lung cancer screenings involve a low-dose CT scan, but Dr. Mazzone said research is underway to develop a blood test that could also be used.

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