Why Screen for Lung Cancer
Screening is the process of looking for a disease in people who don’t have symptoms of that disease. Common screening tests include mammography for breast cancer, Pap smear for cervical cancer, and PSA test and/or digital rectal exam for prostate cancer.
The goal of screening for lung cancer is to identify cancer at an early stage, when it is more likely to be curable. Published in 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial showed that using low-dose chest CT scans to screen people who are at high risk for lung cancer decreases the death rate from lung cancer by 20 percent. More recent trials conducted in Europe have demonstrated similar, and in some cases even more favorable, results.
As a result of this research, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and other expert groups now recommend annual lung cancer screening for individuals considered to be high risk. Lung cancer screening is a covered service for patients (55 up to age 77) on Medicare, and is also covered under most private insurance plans (55 to age 80).