Perspective Newsletter

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Volume 2

Based on new evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) — the government panel that evaluates the latest scientific evidence on preventive services — recently came out in support of low-dose CT screening for lung cancer in current and former heavy smokers. The USPSTF draft recommendation is based on evidence from several studies, most notably the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) involving more than 50,000 individuals.

In the wake of the draft recommendation, Northern Arizona Radiology becomes one of the first centers in the region to offer CT lung screening for cancer. Northern Arizona Radiologist Stephen V. Ward, M.D., said the trials and the USPSTF recommendation for CT lung screening in asymptomatic, high-risk current and former smokers is the kind of evidence that insurance providers and physicians have been waiting for.

“The evidence now supports screening in those at the highest risk of lung cancer, which are current and former smokers ages 55 to 74,” said Ward. “The NLST study results are significant and change is coming, although it may take several years for insurance coverage to catch up.”

The trial demonstrated that CT lung screening was far superior to traditional chest X-Ray and provided a 20 percent decrease in lung cancer deaths among highrisk individuals.

Specifically, the new USPSTF guidelines recommend annual CT lung screening for lung cancer for people age 55 to 74 years with a 30-pack-year or greater smoking history who currently smoke or who have quit smoking for 15 years or less. The recommendation earned a Grade B in the USPSTF’s draft statement, meaning the organization believes there is “high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.”

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