Did you know that lung cancer killed more than 135,000 people in the United States in 2020? The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force believes that increasing the number of eligible Americans for free lung cancer screenings will save more lives, including those of women and people of color.
According to this Task Force, which is comprised of physicians and scientists who focus their practices on preventive tests and medications, individuals who have been smoking for a long time should begin receiving annual low-dose Computed Tomography (CT) scans at the age of 50.
The new recommendation of free screenings applies to “experienced smokers” between the ages of 50 and 80. The term “experienced smokers” applies to those who have smoked approximately one pack of cigarettes a day for the past 20 years. When it comes to affecting women and people of color, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stated that more people in this population will be eligible for screening compared to Caucasian men, who are still susceptible to lung cancer. It is important to keep in mind, according to the Washington Post, “the new recommendation will increase the use of the test; estimates are that fewer than 5 percent of eligible Americans have been screened for lung cancer.”
This new recommendation should be analyzed by other professionals. Some people believe the new recommendation will allow for the cancer to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, leading to better chances for effective treatment and cures. Conversely, some professionals suggest taking caution because though a low-dose CT scan on a high-risk individual may reduce the mortality rate of lung cancer, there is the possibility of false-positive test results, which in turn could lead to expensive and unnecessary treatments and doctor appointments, not to mention distress for the individual.
With everything considered, the task force believes the benefits of increasing the number of eligible Americans for free screenings for lung cancer outweigh the risk of the testing.