New Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide Supports Adoption, Expanded Availability of Lifesaving Screening for #1 Cancer Killer

New Guide from Lung Association, ATS to expand availability of screening programs in communities

On Sunday, May 20, the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE initiative and the American Thoracic Society (ATS) joined forces to present a new tool in the effort to defeat lung cancer, the nation's leading cause of cancer deaths. During the ATS international conference in San Diego, the groups unveiled the first-of-its-kind Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide, designed to support the development and coordination of screening programs in community hospitals and health care systems nationwide.

"One reason why lung cancer is so deadly is because it’s often diagnosed at a later stage, when it is less curable. Lung cancer screening is recommended for those considered at high risk, as screening can lead to early diagnosis when survival rates are five times higher," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "Advancing screening programs to every community through the support of this new implementation guide is an important step in ensuring that everyone who is eligible has the opportunity to access screening, regardless of where they live. Through screening, we can save thousands of lives and begin to turn the tide against lung cancer."

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of men and women, taking more lives than any other cancer.

If every American who met the high risk criteria was screened, an estimated 25,000 lives would be saved.  However, only five percent of those who qualify are currently getting screened. To address this gap and encourage better access for patients, the Lung Association and ATS convened a panel of experts from across the country with experience in all aspects of lung cancer screening implementation process to create the new implementation guide for lung cancer screening programs.

Intended for community hospitals and health care systems, the implementation guide recognizes that a successful and effective lung cancer screening program requires careful coordination. In support of these efforts, the guide is a pragmatic step-by-step plan to help design, implement and conduct low-dose CT screening programs for lung cancer.

"This screening criteria is relatively new, and drastically underutilized," said American Thoracic Society Executive Director Stephen C. Crane, PhD, MPH. "It's imperative that patients have access to high quality lung cancer screening programs, and we’re proud to provide community hospitals and health care systems guidance on establishing programs based on best practices, so that they may best serve their communities."

According to Dr. Crane, the guide also offers an overview of the general structure of lung cancer screening programs and topics for consideration, including potential pitfalls and obstacles along with resources and tools that will aid health care systems in establishing their own lung cancer screening program. The guide also covers smoking cessation and shared decision making, both integral parts of a lung cancer screening program.

Available as a downloadable PDF now, an online version of the Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide will be available this fall.

Lung cancer screening is recommended for those considered at “high risk” for developing lung cancer, which includes anyone age 55-80 who is a current smoker or quit smoking in the last 15 years and smoked the equivalent of 30 "pack years" (1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs for 15 years, or any combination of years and packs that equals 30).

For media interested in learning more about the Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide or to schedule an interview with a lung cancer screening expert, contact Allison MacMunn at the American Lung Association ([email protected] or 312-801-7628) or Dacia Morris at the American Thoracic Society ([email protected] or 212-315-8620).

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