Updated USPSTF Recommendation to Save Lives by Dramatically Increasing Number of Americans Eligible for Lung Cancer Screening

Recommendation will help more women and people of color access screening without cost-sharing

Today the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its lung cancer screening recommendation. This update expands the current guidelines for 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. This recommendation will nearly double the number of individuals eligible for screening and has the potential to save significantly more lives than the current guidelines.

“Defeating lung cancer is a top priority for the American Lung Association. Today’s expansion of the screening guidelines is a critical step to improve survival rates and reach more of those Americans potentially at high risk for this disease,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO, American Lung Association. “The Lung Association urges Medicare and state Medicaid programs to move swiftly and update coverage guidelines to match this expanded recommendation.”

The updated USPSTF recommendation is also an important step forward in addressing racial disparities associated with lung cancer. The Lung Association’s 2020 “State of Lung Cancer” report showed that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans because they are less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment, and more likely to not receive any treatment. The expanded criteria will more than double the number of Black and Hispanic people eligible for screening and increase the number of American Indians and Alaskan Natives eligible by 2.7-fold. Close to twice as many women will also be eligible for screening under the revised guidelines.

“The Lung Association remains committed to continuing to improve lung cancer screening rates for the high-risk population by educating patients, providers and policymakers about this expansion of eligibility for screening and addressing other challenges to improve utilization,” said Wimmer.

In August of 2020, the Lung Association submitted comments to USPSTF, expressing strong support for this new recommendation.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, most private insurance plans will need to update screening coverage policies to reflect the updated guidelines by March 31, 2022.  

Learn more about lung cancer screening and lung health at Lung.org or SavedByTheScan.org. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung cancer and lung cancer screening, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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