Lung Association urges scans
The American Lung Association urges people with a long history of smoking to consider getting a CT scan to look for lung cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that CT scans likely have a “moderate” health benefit for people who are between the ages of 55 and 74 who smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years. Screening isn’t recommended for people who quit more than 15 years ago.
If lung cancer is caught in the earliest possible stage, IA1, 92 percent of people who have it survive at least five years. By the time it progresses to stage IIA, only about 60 percent of people survive five years. The odds go down rapidly from there.
The screening isn’t perfect, because it often picks up abnormalities that turn out not to be cancer. It isn’t recommended for people who aren’t healthy enough to undergo surgery on their lungs. Talk to your doctor about whether the benefits of screening outweigh the risks in your case.