by Loren Bonner
, DOTmed News Online Editor | January 11, 2013
The American Cancer Society announced new recommendations for lung cancer screening using CT scans, which follows other guidance on cancer screening and says that informed decision-making and shared decision-making should be a priority for doctors and patients.
"At this time, there is sufficient evidence to support screening, provided that the patient has undergone a thorough discussion of the benefits, limitations, and risks, and can be screened in a setting with experience in lung cancer screening," stated researchers in the report, which will be published online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
According to a statement from the American Cancer Society, high-risk patients should be screened with low-dose CT only if they are a former or current smoker between the ages of 55 and 74 with a 30-pack-year history — meaning one pack a day for 30 years or the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked.
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These new recommendations come on the heels of results from the federally sponsored National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), which showed for the first time that CT lung screening can save lives when performed in the context of careful patient selection and follow-up. CT as a screening tool has normally been controversial, and still is seen that way by many experts, due to concerns about radiation exposure, the costs of imaging, and follow-up testing on patients.
In a statement from the American College of Radiology acknowledging the new recommendations, the professional society said that it is working on creating its own guidelines for CT lung cancer screening "to ensure that these exams are performed using proper personnel, equipment, protocols and proper follow-up."