U.S. Panel Backs Routine Lung CT Scans for Older, Heavy Smokers

Yearly testing will prevent some lung cancer deaths, experts conclude

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She added that there are a fair number of false positives involved in CT scans for lung cancer. These can be resolved through screening, but that adds to the number of radiation exposures a patient will receive.

The panel also had to weigh whether their recommendation would send the message to smokers that they now don't have to quit because screening measures will prevent their death from lung cancer.

"The main message of all this should be that you should stop smoking," said former lung association board chair Rizzo, who is section chief of pulmonary/critical care medicine at Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Del.

"If you have started and you can't quit, there is an ability to screen for that early lung cancer, but the screening does not mean we're going to catch the cancer before it does you harm," Rizzo said. "This is not an excuse for people to keep smoking, simply because they think they can get screened adequately."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about lung cancer risk factors.

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