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New guidance says more people should be screened for lung cancer

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Posted at 3:55 PM, Nov 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-02 17:55:18-04

More people die from lung cancer than any other cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an effort to prevent more deaths, the American Cancer Society is revising its recommendations for who should be screened for the disease.

The organization now says people between the ages of 50 and 80, who smoke or used to smoke, should consider undergoing a screening.

The previous guidance said those 55 to 74 should be screened for lung cancer. It also now says people who quit more than 15 years ago may still need to be screened, depending on how often they smoked. If a person smoked one pack a day for 20 years, they should be screened, even if they quit decades ago, the American Cancer Society recommends.

The test used for lung cancer screenings is called the LDCT scan.

"During an LDCT scan, you lie on a table while a computed tomography scanner uses X-rays to make detailed images of your chest, including your lungs," the American Cancer Society says.

The organization notes that the test can help medical professionals identify abnormal areas in the lungs that may be
cancer — before any symptoms are presented.

It's not currently recommended for people who never smoked to get screened for lung cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says the possible harms of screening outweigh the possible benefit of finding lung cancer early in this group.