USPSTF with New Recommendation for Lung Cancer Screening

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and Indiana, killing over 150,000 Americans and approximately 4,000 Indiana residents every year. If all tobacco smoking stopped, the occurrence of lung cancer would decrease by an estimated 90%, however, 25.6 percent of adults in Indiana continue to smoke putting them at greater risk for developing lung and other types of cancer.

In the past, early detection of lung cancer has not been shown effective in reducing mortality from lung cancer. However, just last month, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a DRAFT recommendation statement that supports annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in persons at high risk for lung cancer based on age and smoking history. The USPSTF is an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine and develops recommendations for primary care clinicians and health systems. The lung cancer screening recommendation falls in line with a similar guideline from the American Cancer Society; however, the American Cancer Society more directly emphasizes informed-decision, specifically in regards to the benefits and harms when screening for lung cancer.

The USPSTF found adequate evidence that annual screening for lung cancer with LDCT in current and former smokers ages 55 to 79 who have significant tobacco smoke exposure can prevent a substantial number of lung cancer deaths. The draft also addresses the harms of lung cancer screening such as over-diagnosis and rate of false-positives.

While the recommendation makes progress for early detection of lung cancer, the best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer is to quit smoking. Smokers who quit smoking, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. Visit http://www.in.gov/quitline/ for free, evidence-based smoking cessation assistance.

The USPSTF seeks comments to help make its draft documents more useful to primary care providers and other who are interested. The draft Recommendation Statement is available for comment until August, 26, 2013. To submit your public comment, please visit http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec.htm

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