The National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines differ somewhat from the US Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation for lung cancer screening. The primary difference is that the NCCN’s guidelines are more inclusive. Specifically, that means for people who have an additional risk factor, such as a family member with a history of lung cancer or radon exposure, both the minimum age and smoking history are more relaxed. With an additional qualifying risk factor, the NCCN recommends low-dose CT scan for people 50 years and with a minimum smoking history of 20 pack years. (USPSTF recommends age 55 and 30 pack year smoking history.)
New England Journal of Medicine’s groundbreaking research concluded that lung cancer screening saves lives. The research was published August 4, 2011. “Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening” by the National Lung Screening Trial Research Team. This is the research that started it all. The National Lung Screening Trial involved more than 50,000 Americans at high-risk for lung cancer who were screened for lung cancer between 2002 and 2009. Half were screened annually using chest x-ray and the other half were screened using low-dose CT scan. The results were so dramatic that the study ended sooner than scheduled because evidence conclusively showed that screening by low-dose CT scans saved lives…a lot of lives. In this study, lung cancer screening reduced lung cancer mortality rate by 20%.