A government-backed panel of health experts has said that more people who have been smoking for a long time should be screened for lung cancer every year. Experts have said that even if these people have quit smoking in recent years they should be tested for the dreaded disease. The new guidelines for lung cancer testing have been recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The agency evaluates and guides preventive health care services across the country. Although it is officially a government body, its guidelines are designed by renowned experts from outside, who are invited on a volunteer basis. The new guidelines for lung cancer testing have been issued by the agency recently. These guidelines have been released in the medical journal called JAMA. Experts have said that people in the age range of 50 to 80 years with at least 20-pack -years of smoking history should be tested for lung cancer every year. A pack-year means having smoked a whole pack, which contains 20 cigarettes a day for years. People who have been smoking that many cigarettes and have quit smoking within the last 15 years have been advised to undergo testing for lung cancer. People who have quit smoking more than 15 years ago and have some underlying health issues that can affect their lifespan or motivation to undergo lung surgery are not advised to go for testing.
Some experts have said that guidelines issued by the USPSTF will affect people’s insurance coverage that means more people in the US will be entitled to lung cancer testing through their existing health plans. They have said that the new recommendations are more liberal than the current set of guidelines that have been released in 2013. Past guidelines have stated that people who are in the age range of 55 to 80 years with 30 pack-years of smoking history should be tested for lung cancer. Experts from the USPSTF have said that new evidence has shown potential benefits of early screening for people who have a lighter smoking history. A modeling study that has been published in the JAMA journal has revealed that new guidelines can prevent more deaths resulting due to lung cancer in the long run as compared to previous guidelines. The study has modeled what might happen if everyone, who has been eligible and born in the 1960s, would have been tested for lung cancer through a low dose CT scan that is a common screening test. Experts have said that new recommendations are expected to reduce 503 deaths per 100000 people who are tested as compared to 381 deaths per 100000 people under the old guidelines.
Experts have said that the new guidelines will help bridge the gap in cancer care. They have claimed that though smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer, the cases of lung cancer are quite higher in Black Americans as compared to other racial groups. It is considered that Black and Native Americans are at a greater risk of lung cancer even at lower levels of smoking. Health experts have said that women as well should be tested for the deadly disease now, as they usually smoke less than men on average. A professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Rafael Meza has said that the new rules will decrease the disparities in lung cancer eligibility by race and sex. He has led the new modeling study, which has been released in the JAMA journal. At present, lung cancer is the second most cancer, which is prevalent in the US. The disease contributes to more than 200000 confirmed incidents every year. Though the number of deaths due to lung cancer has slowly reduced over the years, it is still the primary cause of death due to cancer in the US. Experts believe that nearly 131880 people in the US are expected to lose their lives due to lung cancer this year.