ACS Recommends Low-Dose CT for Lung Cancer Screening

January 14, 2013

Low-dose CT is an appropriate screening tool for lung cancer among high-risk patients, say new guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society.

Low-dose CT is an appropriate screening tool for lung cancer among high-risk patients who meet certain conditions, say new guidelines issued last week by the American Cancer Society.

To update their lung cancer screening guidelines, the ACS reviewed the findings of a systematic review, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last June. The results showed that although there existed some uncertainty about potential harms with imaging, low-dose CT screening could benefit certain patients who were at an increased risk of developing the disease, lowering the risk of death from lung cancer.

Published early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the new ACS guidelines state that former smokers (having quit within the previous 15 years) or current smokers, ages 55 to 74 with a 30-pack-year smoking history may consider being screened for lung cancer, if they have undergone a thorough discussion of the benefits, limitations and screening risks, and if the patient can be screened in a setting with experience in lung cancer screening.

The American College of Radiology acknowledged the importance of the new recommendations. Adding that , “Appropriate guidelines and practice standards are needed, and must be created and implemented to ensure that patients nationwide have access to uniform, quality care and can expect similar life-saving benefit from these exams as demonstrated in clinical trials.” The ACR is also compiling updated guidelines.

The authors of the report describing the new guidelines acknowledged that more work must be done to “fill in existing knowledge gaps related to broadening eligibility for lung cancer screening, to further define early lung cancer detection protocols, and to put in place an infrastructure to support population-based lung cancer screening.”

The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) welcomed the new guidelines. “Irrefutable evidence supports the value of advanced imaging in reducing mortality associated with lung cancer,” Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA, said in a release. “The ACS’s recommendation of low-dose CT scans for high-risk individuals will stand as an important milestone in reducing access barriers to scans that save lives.”

The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition also commended the recommendations and called them an “important step forward” for reducing deaths and costs of lung cancer.