New screening techniques for lung cancer continue to be developed. If you are considering screening for lung cancer, talk to your doctor so you have a clear understanding of the process and implications.
With lung cancer screening, sometimes a scan will show a spot that is not actually cancer. This is called a false positive. There is a very high false positive rate in lung cancer screening so it is important to work closely with your health care team.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a consortium of cancer centers that develops recommendations about treatment regimens, has made the following recommendation for lung cancer screening.
Base-line low dose CT (computed tomography) screening for the following “high-risk” groups:
- People 55-74 with a history of heavy smoking - at least “30- pack years”, which would include people who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or people who smoked two packs per day for 15 years, or three packs per day for 10 years, etc.
- People over age 50 with a history of moderately high smoking – at least 20 pack-years - PLUS one other risk factor.
People who think they may be at risk for lung cancer and are interested in screening should seek out an established Screening CT program where they can be followed by a multidisciplinary team if their scan is abnormal.