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Older People Who Smoke Heavily Advised to Consider CT Lung Screening

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The American Cancer Society is recommending that older people with a significant smoking history should consider getting a low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer. The recommendation applies to people ages 55 to 74 who smoke heavily, or did so within the past 15 years, HealthDay reports.

In 2010, the U.S. National Cancer Institute published a study that found annual CT screening for lung cancer for older current or former smokers decreased their death rate by 20 percent.

According to the American Cancer Society, CT screening should only be done after patients fully discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor. The screening should be conducted by someone experienced in low-dose CT lung cancer screening, the society notes in its recommendations, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

In a statement about the new guidelines, Otis W. Brawley, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer for the American Cancer Society, notes CT screening can lead to more invasive and potentially dangerous tests that ultimately do not result in a cancer diagnosis.

“Non-smokers and people with a minimal or no history of smoking do get lung cancer, but they are at much lower risk. The American Cancer Society does not recommend screening for those at lower risk, because the risk of harm from screening remains significant but there is little evidence of benefit,” Brawley said.

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