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Updated Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released updated lung cancer screening recommendations that will nearly double the number of people eligible for tests.  In a recent recommendation statement published in JAMA, the USPSTF said individuals should begin low-dose CT lung cancer screening five years earlier than its 2013 guidance, lowering the starting age from 55 to 50.  They also expanded its high-risk population to include those who smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years (1 pack a day for 20 years or 2 packs a day for 10 years), rather than a 30 pack-year history.

This change applies to adults between 50 and 80 years who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.  This means approximately 14.5 million U.S. adults will be eligible for lung cancer screening, an 81% jump from the 2013 recommendations.

Debra Dyer, MD, chair of the ACR Lung Cancer Screening Steering Committee noted “lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.  Particularly with the expanded screening thresholds implemented nationwide, this cost-effective test can save more lives than any cancer screening test in history”.

As these guidelines have recently been updated, your insurance may not yet cover the cost of this screening.  If the screening is not covered under your insurance, the out-of-pocket cost is an affordable $175.00.