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New Lung Cancer Testing Guidelines

Lung cancer is responsible for killing more Americans than any other cancer, causing more than 135,000 deaths a year. Unfortunately, lung cancer is often caught in its later stages and early detection and state-of-the-art treatment are the most effective ways of preserving your health.

To improve the chances of early cancer detection, new testing guidelines have been recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and published in the Journal of American Medical Association. These guidelines are now:

Adults, age 50-80, who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years—face a dramatically higher risk of developing lung cancer or other lung diseases. (Additional risk factors include family history of lung cancer or exposure to asbestos, radon, arsenic or other carcinogenics.)

The reduction from 30 years to 20 years is thought to increase screening eligibility for almost 15 million Americans. These updated guidelines mean that health plans will cover annual checks earlier for individuals who meet this criteria.

“Low-dose CT screening can detect even small lung abnormalities and is considered the gold standard in finding lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage,” says Daniel Oh, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery at USC and Medical Director of the Providence St. Jude Center for Thoracic and Esophageal Diseases.

Studies show that only five percent of those eligible for screening come in. With these changes, the task force is hoping that this number of screenings increases and improves the chances of catching lung cancer early and saves lives.

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