ACR endorses USPSTF draft recommendation on lung cancer screening

The American College of Radiology last week submitted a letter to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) "strongly" supporting its draft recommendation endorsing low-dose computer tomography (LDCT) for lung cancer screening for high-risk smokers.

In the letter, ACR Chair Paul H. Ellenbogen, M.D., wrote that the ACR agrees "that a strong body of evidence, including published National Lung Cancer Screening Trial [NLST] results, demonstrate that CT lung cancer screening significantly reduces lung cancer deaths in high-risk populations and is appropriate with careful patient selection and follow-up."

Ellenbogen added that the ACR believes that there are other populations--such as patients who have family histories of lung cancer, or factors involving occupational exposures or exposure to radion--who potentially could benefit from LDCT, as well. In any event, Ellenbogen wrote that the combination of the USPSTF's recommendation and the ACR's practice guidelines and appropriateness criteria for LDCT screening will help physicians refer patients to the most beneficial and effective screening exams.

ACR urged the USPSTF to move quickly in finalizing its recommendation. "[E]vidence-based infrastructure must be put in place nationwide to ensure that patients have access to uniform, quality care and a similar life-saving benefit from these exams as demonstrated in the NLST," Ellenbogen said. "ACR is committed to working with our members, federal partners and payers to achieve this goal. We urge the Taskforce to move quickly in finalizing its draft recommendations so that efforts to build the necessary infrastructure can move forward in a timely fashion."

Last week, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) also announced that it supported the USPSTF recommendation.

AATS said it specifically supported:

  • Performing the LDCT scan at least once a year
  • Continuing screening up the age of 80
  • Enabling patients with abnormal scans to be evaluated in specialized centers with expertise in lung cancer
  • Linking lung cancer screening with smoking cessation programs

"No one deserves to suffer the effects of an advanced stage of disease if a test is currently available to detect and cure the disease prior to symptoms," AATS President David J. Sugarbaker, M.D., said in a statement. "The time has finally come to use modern technology to prevent this type of suffering in lung cancer victims. Together we can continue to decrease lung cancer deaths."

To learn more:
- read the ACR's letter (.pdf)
- here's the AATS statement

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