Millions More Smokers Need Lung Cancer Screening, Even Decades After Quitting

  • November 16, 2023
  • 5 min read
Millions More Smokers Need Lung Cancer Screening, Even Decades After Quitting

Even if you haven’t touched a cigarette in decades, you may need to get an annual lung cancer screening based on new recommendations from the American Cancer Society (ACS).

In its updated new lung cancer screening guidelines, the agency says adults ages 50 to 80 who smoke or used to smoke the equivalent of a pack a day for 20 years should have a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan every year, regardless of when they stopped smoking.

Is Lung Cancer Screening Necessary? 

The controversy settles in a tumor that causes 23,000 deaths a yearAs per the lung cancer screening guidelines, the scientific community assumes it would help detect the disease earlier and reduce mortality. Still, there are disagreements about the magnitude of the side effects and how and where to implement this early detection system.

Why Do We Have The New Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines?

Lung cancer has a hard time showing itself. It does not usually give apparent symptoms, and when it shows its face in the form of cough, back pain, or difficulty breathing, it is usually already significantly expanded. 30% of patients diagnosed in advanced stages of the disease had no symptoms.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of death due to oncological disease in the world: it is present in 18% of cases and causes 1.37 million deaths per year. Such high mortality is because, at the time of diagnosis, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body in 80% of cases.

Cancer can be detected in earlier stages using low-radiation computed tomography. This test allows the tumor to be identified at an earlier stage when it forms small nodules in the lung and before it spreads to other areas of the body. 

Lung cancer screening is recommended for people at high risk of developing it. Candidates must meet the following characteristics:

Age between 55 and 74 years

  • History of smoking for at least 30 years: smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or 15 years if two packs a day are consumed.
  • They may also be active smokers or ex-smokers with a history of consumption of less than 15 years.
  • Using low-radiation CT scans exposes the patient to a tiny dose of radiation (equivalent to a quarter of the radiation a person receives from natural sources annually).

The new lung cancer screening guidelines published: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians extends screening recommendations to about 5 million more adults. Previous lung cancer screening guidelines said annual screening was no longer necessary if 15 years had passed since quitting and was only recommended for current or former smoker’s ages 55 to 74 who smoked a pack’s worth per day for more than 30 years.

Robert Smith, lead author of the recommendations and senior vice president of cancer screening science, explained in a news announcement that the change is based on new studies that “have shown that extending the age for cancer screening “For current and former smokers, eliminating the ‘years since quitting’ requirement and reducing the pack-year recommendation could make a real difference in saving lives.”

“Pack-Year” Is A Measure Used To Describe The Number Of Cigarettes Smoked And For How Long.

The new lung cancer screening guidelines urge to promote research and innovation for the early detection of lung cancer.

A quarter of deaths in high-risk populations around the world could be avoided through screening, according to the report “Screening in lung cancer: The cost of inaction.”

The objective of lung cancer screening is to eliminate lung cancer as a cause of death. Brought together health experts, scientific societies, patient associations, and institutional representatives yesterday in a day in which they debated and put forward in value the need to innovate and research to implement a lung cancer early detection system.

Early detection is one of the main lines of the strategy to confront cancer. In the Ministry, we analyze the feasibility of launching programs based on the available scientific evidence. 

Adhere To Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines

 This neoplasia stands out among the tumors with the worst prognosis due to both its aggressiveness and the difficulty involved in making an early diagnosis of it, and the majority of cases are diagnosed when the tumor cannot be operated on, a fact that entails one of the worst survival results.

Prevention is the key to avoiding new lung cancer cases; therefore, Public Health, Primary Care, and Hospitals work in a coordinated manner. New lung cancer screening guidelines also highlight the value of advancing in treating this pathology through innovative techniques. And finally, recognize the winners’ effort during the day and value the participants’ quality in it.

Lung cancer screening implements targeted screening programs to help improve lung cancer survival and reduce the cost burden on healthcare systems. In addition, it analyzes the cost-effectiveness of the early diagnosis. It concludes that the chances of survival of patients diagnosed with Stage I are between 68 and 92%, compared to less than 10% when diagnosed with Stage 4,5, 6, and 7,8. The cost increases the later the disease is diagnosed due to increased hospital admissions, treatment rounds, and the need for additional care and palliative care.

As we say, prevention is better than cure! So get your Lung cancer screening today!

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Fatima Humayun

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