U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Release of Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations

Lung cancer remains the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. Lung cancer diagnosed and treated at an early stage has a much higher survival rate, but most cases are not diagnosed until later stages. Being diagnosed at an early stage of the disease is associated with lower lung cancer mortality. However, 75 percent of patients are diagnosed only after symptoms occur from later stage disease.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is now recommending annual low-dose CT screening for individuals at high risk for lung cancer, and defines high risk individuals as current and former smokers, ages 55-79 years, who have significant cumulative tobacco smoke exposure and have smoked within the last 15 years.  It is estimated that implementing these recommendations can result in a 14 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality in the United States.
Researchers for the USPSTF reviewed 67 articles published since 2000 to assess the benefits and harms of screening asymptomatic high-risk adults for lung cancer using LDCT. This systematic evidence review was conducted to update to the Task Force’s 2004 recommendation statement.
Low-dose CT lung cancer screening received a “B” grade recommendation from the task force. This finding is subject to a public review and comment period. The “B” grade signifies that coverage for CT screening will be available with no cost sharing as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
These recommendations are consistent with those formulated by the American Lung Association Scientific Advisory Committee and approved by the American Lung Association’s Board of Directors in May 2012. Read more about CT screening for lung cancer at American Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Screening Key Points.