Lifesaving Lung Cancer Screening Now Recommended for 14 Million Americans

American Lung Association works to increase access to lifesaving screening for those at high risk for lung cancer

Today, the American Lung Association announced a new campaign to raise awareness of lung cancer screening and work to ensure that insurance programs cover the new guidelines expanding screening eligibility across the nation.

In March 2021, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) expanded the guidelines for lung cancer screening to include individuals ages 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Now more than double the number of Black and Brown Americans are eligible for screening. In addition, close to twice as many women are also eligible for screening under the new guidelines.

“More than 14 million people are now eligible for lung cancer screening, so it is critical for these people to have access to this lifesaving screening through Medicare or their private insurance programs,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The updated lung cancer screening guidelines are also an important step forward in addressing racial disparities associated with lung cancer. Black Americans with lung cancer are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage, less likely to receive surgical treatment, and less likely to receive any treatment at all compared to white Americans. Many Black and Brown Americans who previously were not eligible for lung cancer screening now meet the updated criteria and it’s especially important for them to talk with their healthcare providers about whether they should be screened.”

On February 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it updated its lung cancer screening eligibility guidelines for people covered by Medicare to be similar to the USPSTF guidelines (CMS guidelines are for ages 50-77 instead of the USPSTF guidelines of ages 50-80). As a result of the Affordable Care Act, most private insurance plans are required to cover lung cancer screening for those now at high risk under the USPSTF criteria for plan years beginning after March 31, 2022.  

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in America, but there is hope. Lung cancer screening is used to detect lung cancer early when it is more likely to be curable. If lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years or more improves to 60%. Unfortunately, lung cancer screening is underutilized. Nationally, only 5.7% of people who are eligible have been screened.

Through an unrestricted grant from AstraZeneca, the American Lung Association is working to raise awareness for lung cancer screening, especially for Black and Brown Americans and women. A helpful Q&A document is available at Lung.org/screening.

Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung cancer should contact Jill Dale at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-940-7001.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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