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The Number of Smokers Eligible for Lung Cancer Screening to Be Doubled

Cancer occurs when cells grow abnormally. More than 135,000 Americans die of lung cancer, making it the top killer amongst 100 types of cancer. 

A U.S. Federal Health Panel intends to increase the number of Americans who scan for lung cancer yearly by opening screening to those who are not heavy smokers.

On July 7, 2020, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force drafted the 2013 recommendations and released a proposal.

The 2013 Recommendations

That task force stated that smokers would qualify for screening at the age of 55 and above if they had a packet of cigarettes daily for 30 years or any equal amount. 

The 2020 blueprint states that: 

 There’s a need to expand screening to those who have smoked less/day in 20 years since it will benefit young and old who smoke heavily according to a new study. 

 Screening to start at age 50

 It would nearly double the current number of those eligible for screening to about 15 million, including women and Black Americans, says Dr. Michael Barry of Massachusetts General Hospital and a Task Force member.

Research Findings Cited by the Task Force

 Lung cancer screening is sophisticated, and a few hospitals are equipped to provide the services.

 Only 6% of lung cancer patients are screened compared to 60-80% for colon or breast cancer.

 Lung cancer patients can survive through too late diagnosis. But research shows, annual Low-dose CT scan X-ray can also save a life.

During the scan for lung cancer, a person might undergo intrusive testing when the defect is detected to tell if it’s a tumor. The lung biopsies can lead to severe complications, said a cancer expert Dr. Otis Brawly of Johns Hopkins University (a non-member of the task force). 

He supported the new proposal as it would enable young and light smokers to have their lungs in good shape. He further anticipated having a population where healthier smokers could be recruited, and their problem addressed through surgery.

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