The US Preventive Services Task Force Releases Recommendations for Lung Cancer Screening

Yesterday the US Prevention Services Task Force (USPSTF) released recommendation for lung cancer screening of high risk individuals defined as current smokers or smokers who have quit in the last 15 years, age of 55-80 years with a smoking history on average of at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or equivalent (ex. Two packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years). It is estimated than 10 million US citizens will fall into this category, although not all will be eligible for screening due to other health issues. The recommendations are based on several studies, but the largest screening study, the National Lung Screening Study (NLST) supported by the US National Institute of Health, demonstrated a reduction in lung cancer death with 20% by low-dose CT-screening compared to chest X-ray.

“The new recommendations represent a significant break-through in the prevention of deaths due to lung cancer” says Professor Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD at the University of Colorado and the CEO of the International Association for the Study of Lung cancer (IASLC) – the only global organization dedicated solely to lung cancer. In the US, more than 228,000 new patients are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, and more than 160,000 patients die from the disease annually – so lung cancer represents a huge health problem not only in the US, but globally. Dr. Hirsch notes “the perspective of lung cancer screening is enormous” “While we know much about lung cancer screening and the very significant results, there are still factors we don’t know, which are currently being studied in ongoing studies, such as what is the optimal size of a screen detected nodule for being considered “cancer-suspect”, what is the optimal screening population as well as the most optimal screening technology. Furthermore, what is the cost-benefit of lung cancer screening in the different health care systems. However, while we are awaiting answers to these questions from the ongoing studies, the IASLC support lung cancer screening for high-risk populations, but are recommending that the candidate individuals communicate and discuss with their physicians about risk-benefits of lung cancer screening”, Dr. Hirsch says. The recommendations from the USPSTF will bring lung cancer in line with other cancers like breast-, colon and cervical cancer, whose survival has significantly improved due to responsible delivery and access to screening.

What is the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC):

IASLC was founded in 1974 as an International academic organization devoted to education and scientific development to reduce lung cancer mortality globally.

The organization has today 3800 members from more than 80 different countries. To learn more about IASLC please visit


Contact: Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Pathology
University of Colorado/CEO IASLC. Phone 303 807 9853; Email:

December 31, 2013