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WASHINGTON — Nearly 5 million more people are recommended to be tested for lung cancer under the latest guidelines from the American Cancer Society. The guidelines expanded recommendations to include older adults who are or have been smokers, regardless of how long they have stopped smoking.
Previously, the American Cancer Society recommended annual lung cancer screening for adults ages 55 to 74 who have smoked at least 30 packs/year and are currently smoking or have quit within 15 years. was recommended. The group now says how long someone has stopped smoking is not a factor in whether they get tested for lung cancer.
In the latest guidelines released on Wednesday, CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians, The American Cancer Society recommends that current or former smokers ages 50 to 80 who have smoked at least 20 packs/year get an annual lung cancer screening. A pack year is defined as the average of one pack of cigarettes he smokes per day during a year. For example, a person who smoked two packs a day for 10 years has a history of 20 pack years, but so does a person who smoked one pack a day for 20 years.
Additionally, the American Cancer Society’s latest guidelines recommend against “using any number of years since quitting smoking” as a criterion for starting or discontinuing lung cancer screening in former smokers who meet age and pack-year eligibility criteria. ing.
“I think people were confused by all the years of quitting,” said Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer of the American Cancer Society.
“First of all, lung cancer is an older people’s disease, so basically your risk starts to peak in your 60s. That’s probably when people stopped getting screened.” he said. . “We found that over time, the risk continues for men and women over 60. So it is precisely because of the fact that the cancer risk for men and women over 60 is actually highest. It’s time.”
In a survey of Americans in the 1940s, about half of adults said they smoked cigarettes. Smoking rates began to decline in the 1960s, and last year about 11% of adults (a historic low) told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they were current smokers, according to the latest preliminary survey data.
Expanding the number of people eligible for screening
The American Cancer Society estimates that the updated recommendations could prevent 21% more deaths from lung cancer compared to current recommendations.
The organization last updated its lung cancer screening guidelines in 2013.
“Today’s main difference is that the American Cancer Society no longer recommends that years of abstinence be considered as a qualification for lung cancer screening,” said Robert, American Cancer Society senior vice president of early cancer detection science.・Dr. Smith said. The lead author of the review guidelines said at a press conference. “So basically, as long as you have a medical history of at least 20 pack years, are between 50 and 80 years old, and are in reasonable health, you are eligible to be screened according to our guidelines. ”
The American Cancer Society is not the only organization promoting cancer screening in the United States. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is a group of independent medical experts whose recommendations help guide doctors’ decisions and influence insurance plans, and it has its own screening advice. In 2021, the task force issued a final recommendation statement Annual lung cancer screening is recommended for adults between the ages of 50 and 80 who have smoked 20 packs per year, are current smokers, or have quit within the past 15 years. ing.
“The USPSTF and other guidelines have always said that lung cancer screening should be applied to current smokers and those who have stopped smoking within the past 15 years,” said Dr. D., a pulmonologist and associate professor of cancer prevention. said researcher Dr. Matthew Triplett. from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center was not involved with the cancer society or the task force’s recommendations.
“I think the American Cancer Society’s new guidelines reflect more recent modeling evidence,” Triplett said. “In it, they argue that the risks do not stop after 15 years of quitting, and that indeed people with such a heavy smoking history should continue to be screened or should be eligible for screening. doing.”
He added that it is estimated that only about 10% to 15% of all people in the United States are tested for lung cancer.