U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Releases Draft Recommendations on Lung Cancer Screening

(August 6, 2013)

On July 29, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued draft recommendations calling for annual low-dose CT screening for individuals at high risk for lung cancer. High risk is defined as current and former smokers, ages 55-79 years, who have significant cumulative tobacco smoke exposure and have smoked within the last 15 years.  The American Lung Association applauds the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for releasing its draft lung cancer screening recommendations.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer patients is only 15 percent.  If the recommendations are approved, annual screenings will be covered at no cost under all medical insurance, including Medicare, increasing early detection and treatment of lung cancer and ultimately, saving lives. It is estimated that implementing these recommendations can result in a 14 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality in the United States.

In April 2012, the American Lung Association released guidelines to assist physicians and their patients in discussions about lung cancer screening. The Lung Association’s guidelines, based on the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, mirror that of the USPSTF’s draft recommendations. The full American Lung Association Report on Lung Cancer Screening and related educational materials are available here.

The most important risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, and the best thing people can do to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking or never start. The American Lung Association has helped more than one million people quit smoking through its Freedom From Smoking® program and Freedom From Smoking Lung Helpline 1-800-LUNGUSA.

The American Lung Association also provides several resources for lung cancer patients and their caregivers. Facing Lung Cancer: Support from Day One is an online tool with interactive features that address specific topics of interest for people living with lung cancer and their loved ones. The Lung Connection is an online community where individuals living with lung disease and their caregivers can discuss how lung disease affects their lives and share life experiences with peers.