Some current, former smokers should get annual lung scans: US panel
CHICAGO (REUTERS) - Heavy smokers and former heavy smokers should get annual lung cancer screening tests, according to final guidelines issued on Monday by an influential United States (US) panel.
The final recommendations, issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, apply to people aged 55 to 80 whose smoking has put them at high risk of cancer. That includes former heavy smokers who have quit within the past 15 years. Heavy smokers are considered to be those who smoked a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years.
According to a comprehensive review of medical evidence since 2004, the panel found the benefits of screening high-risk individuals with low-dose computed tomography, or CT scans, outweigh the potential harms of overdiagnosis and increased exposure to radiation, which also contribute to cancer risk.
The panel, which is comprised of independent experts and advises US policymakers, gave the screening a "B" recommendation, meaning it is at least moderately certain that the benefits of the scans outweigh the harms. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are required to cover preventive services with a grade of "B" or higher.