Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

USPSTF broadens age range, risk threshold in new recommendation for lung cancer screening

7/16/2020, Georgia CORE

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended expanding the eligible age range and broadening the risk threshold for annual low-dose CT screening for lung cancer. A draft published July 7 updates an earlier 2014 guideline by changing the age range for screening from ages 55-80 to 50-80, as well as the risk threshold from 30 pack-years* to 20 pack-years.
An active participant in the American Cancer Society’s National Lung Cancer Roundtable, Georgia CORE advocates for increased lung cancer screenings in our state, which has more diagnoses and deaths than the national average. Further, as pointed out in our 5 Actions to Save More Lives report (2020), screening high-risk** Georgians – and there are more than 365,000 of them – would bring more than 14,000 quality-adjusted life years, a measure of disease burden, as well as an economic benefit to our state of over $1 billion.
In a recent issue of The Cancer Letter, Michael J. Barry, MD, USPSTF member and medical professor at Harvard Medical School commented: “We can make all the recommendations we want, but unless they’re implemented in practice, we won’t see the expected benefits.”
Which is why Georgia CORE has also advocated that more tobacco funds be used for cancer prevention and education. “As we analyzed in 2019, the portion of Georgia’s Tobacco Settlement Funds used to support cancer-related activities is currently around nine cents out of every dollar, even though cancer is the number one health consequence of tobacco use,” said Georgia CORE president and CEO Nancy Paris. “The updated USPSTF recommendations mean that we should be serving an even larger number of high-risk Georgians with screenings and prevention programs. We could save and pro-long more lives by doing so.”
*A “pack year” is a clinical measurement of tobacco exposure. A person who has smoked 15 cigarettes a day for 40 years has a 30 pack-year history (15/20 x 40 = 30). 1 pack = 20 cigarettes.
**A Georgia State University analysis considered Georgians ‘high-risk’ if they are aged 55 to 74 who have a smoking history of 30 pack years or greater.

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