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Cancer Society Suggests CT Lung Screening for Heavy Smokers

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- New recommendations from the American Cancer Society say that older current or former heavy smokers may want to consider low-dose CT scans to help screen for lung cancer.

Specifically, that includes those aged 55 to 74 with a 30 pack-year smoking history who still smoke or who had quit within the past 15 years. Pack-years are a calculation made by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years of smoking.

"Even with screening, lung cancer would remain the most lethal cancer," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer at the American Lung Association. He noted the cancer society guidelines are similar to the ones from the lung association.

The new recommendation follows on the results of a major U.S. National Cancer Institute study, published in 2010 in Radiology, that found that annual CT screening for lung cancer for older current or former smokers cut their death rate by 20 percent.

Edelman stressed that the study does nothing to change the fact that smoking prevention and cessation remain the most important public health challenge there is.

"Screening is not a way to make smoking safe from cancer deaths, and certainly does nothing to prevent smoking-related deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease," he added.

The cancer society recommendations also emphasize smoking cessation counseling as a high priority and stress that CT screening is not an alternative to quitting smoking.

CT screening should only be done after a discussion between patients and their doctors so people fully understand the benefits, limitations and risks of screening. In addition, screening should only be done by someone experienced in low-dose CT lung cancer screening, the cancer society stressed.

These new guidelines were published in the Jan. 11 online edi

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