Lung Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

Key Points

  • Lung cancer screening can help find lung cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.
  • At this time, studies have shown that low-dose spiral CT scan is the lung cancer only screening tool that reduces the risk of dying from lung cancer.
  • Lung cancer screening is not right for everyone.

No one should die from lung cancer. Fortunately new research provides some much-needed hope in the fight against lung cancer. Based on the results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), the American Lung Association offers the following lung cancer screening recommendations:

  • The best way to prevent lung cancer caused by tobacco use is to never start smoking or to quit smoking.
  • Low-dose CT screening should be recommended for those people who meet NLST criteria:
    • Current or former smokers aged 55 to 74 years
    • A smoking history of at least 30 pack-years
    • No history of lung cancer
  • Individuals should not receive a chest X-ray for lung cancer screening
  • Low-dose CT screening should NOT be recommended for everyone
  • Patients should be referred to a facility that uses “best practices” for CT screening

For more information on lung cancer screening, view the American Lung Association's 2012 report, 'Providing Guidance on Lung Cancer Screening To Patients and Physicians'. The report provides a comprehensive review of the available evidence on both benefits and risks of lung cancer screening, as well as highlights areas where more research is needed.

Should My Patient Be Screened?

Is Lung Cancer Screening Right for Me?