Boston - More Americans die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer, but surgeons and radiologists who specialize in treating lung cancer at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) say this week's decision by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to recommend low-dose CT lung cancer screening will save lives.
"This is a firm and determined recommendation in favor of screening, and there is high certainty that patients will benefit from screening," said Michael Jaklitsch, MD, a thoracic surgeon at BWH and co-chair of a lung screening and surveillance task force established by the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS). "This truly is an historic occasion. This is the first time that USPSTF has come out in favor of a screening plan for lung cancer. Numerous other programs failed to gain the USPSTF recommendation, but the evidence in favor of low-dose CT screening is simply overwhelming."
The USPSTF is recommending annual low-dose CT lung screening for men and women between the ages of 55 and 79 who have a 30 pack-year history of smoking or who have quit in the last 15 years. The recommendation is expected to lead to reimbursement from Medicare and private insurance companies.
Francine Jacobson, MD, MPH, a thoracic radiologist at BWH who also co-chaired the AATS lung screening and surveillance task force said, "This is an incredible change of events from just two years ago. This screening recommendation, which includes the upper age limit that the AATS task force recommended, will lead to earlier detection of lung cancer and save lives."