Lung cancer screening eligibility expanded by USPSTF

Contact: Lisa Berry Edwards

Alexandria, VA—The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) today released new guidelines on lung cancer screening. The USPSTF gave a “B” grade for lung cancer screening for people ages 50-80 with a 20 pack-year history who currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years. (A “pack-year” is the equivalent of smoking one pack per day for a year.) Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must cover screening services given an “A” or “B” grade from the USPSTF.

In previous recommendations published in 2013, the USPSTF recommended lung cancer screening for those ages 55-80 with a 30 pack-year history. By lowering the eligible screening age and smoking criteria, the USPSTF has effectively expanded screening access to millions more smokers or former smokers. According to The Washington Post, the change means that 15 million people will now be eligible for lung cancer screening.

The Foundation applauds the USPSTF for expanding access to screening with these new guidelines. However, in our comments to the USPSTF submitted last year based on then-draft guidelines for lung cancer screening, we urged the USPSTF to go even further by expanding the “look-back” requirement for former smokers (currently 15 years) and including additional risks for lung cancer in the eligibility guidelines, such as environmental tobacco smoke and risks not related to tobacco, such as occupational exposures and exposure to radon. Implementing these changes would go further in expanding access to screening and reducing lung cancer health disparities for Black people and women. 

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® has long been an advocate for lung cancer screening. In 2000, the Foundation launched the Millennium Lung Cancer Workshop (now the Quantitative Imaging Workshop), which led to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) undertaking the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial. This is the largest clinical trial ever sponsored by the NCI. The trial proves that lung cancer screening of high-risk individuals can reduce lung cancer mortality by at least 20%.

Learn more about how to reduce your risk of lung cancer.


About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is celebrating 35 years as the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on saving lives across all populations through cancer prevention and early detection.  Through research, education, outreach and advocacy, we have helped countless people avoid a cancer diagnosis or detect their cancer early enough to be successfully treated.

The Foundation is rising to meet the challenge of reducing cancer deaths by 40% by 2035. To achieve this, we are committed to investing $20 million for innovative technologies to detect cancer early and advance multi-cancer screening, $10 million to expand cancer screening and vaccination access to medically underserved communities, and $10 million to educate the public about screening and vaccination options.

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