HOUSTON – Each year, more people in the United States die from lung cancer than from colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
And thanks to new treatments, if lung cancer is detected at an earlier stage, it is more likely to be treated successfully.
But historically, guidelines for getting tested have focused narrowly on cigarette smokers.
“And we know there are other factors that contribute to lung cancer risk,” said Dr. Robert Smith, senior vice president of early cancer detection and science at the American Cancer Society.
So now the new guidelines, released by the American Cancer Society, state that people ages 50 to 80 with a history of 20 packs of years or more are eligible for an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer.
A pack-year history could look like any of these scenarios, including smoking a pack a day for 20 years – no matter how long ago:
One packet per day for 20 years
Two packets per day for 10 years
A packet and a half a day for just over 13 years
three packets a day for just over 6 and a half years
“Increase the number of eligible people by about 5 million,” said Dr. William Dahut, scientific director of the American Cancer Society. “With our current guidelines, we estimate that there would be 21% additional lung cancer deaths avoided and approximately 19% life years gained compared to current recommendations. »
But just because these are the guidelines doesn’t mean your screening would be covered by insurance. So talk to your primary care provider to determine if you can and should get tested.
“Often people don’t consider themselves smokers because they haven’t smoked in 10, 15, 20 years,” Dahut said. “But the fact that it’s really important for the message to get out is that if you had a significant smoking history, a 20-year history, which would equate to, you know, two packs a day for 10 years, for example , and you stop when you’re 28 and now you know, you’re 55. You should definitely get screened. So advocate for yourself. Talk to your primary care doctor and be aware of the opportunities in your health systems.
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