24 April, 2023

Expanded Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines Could Benefit Black Individuals & Women

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, claiming more lives than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.1 For the more than 230,000 people who will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year2, early detection is the key to having a positive outcome. Despite this, findings have shown that certain groups have been missing out on annual screenings for lung cancer, which is why the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has updated their guidelines for early screenings with low-dose chest CT, in the hopes that these populations will receive the services they need.

What Are The High-Risk Groups Missing Out On Lung Cancer Screenings?

 The State of Lung Cancer 2022 report from the American Lung Association3found that Black Americans with lung cancer were 15% less likely to receive surgical treatment, 10% more likely not to receive any treatment, and 12% less likely to survive five years, compared to white Americans. Additionally, research published in the medical journal PubMedshowed that Black lung cancer patients are diagnosed with lung cancer at a younger age and with more advanced disease.

Another group previously missing out on early screenings is women. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer,women between the ages of 30 to 49 are being diagnosed with lung cancer at higher rates than men, at the same age. These higher rates in women are attributed to increases in a type of lung cancer seen in people who smoke, called adenocarcinoma. This type of lung cancer is also the most common type seen in people who don’t smoke and it is more likely to occur in young women. Experts explain that it’s possible this higher number of lung cancer incidence in women is related to changes in the make-up of cigarettes over the years, or the way women respond to the cancer-causing substances in tobacco.

What Are The Updated Screening Guidelines From the USPSTF?

The updated recommendations from the USPSTF for a once-yearly low-dose chest CT include lowering the minimum screening age from 55 to 50 years and reducing smoking history from 30 pack-years to 20 pack-years.

The USPSTF guidelines recommend CT screening for lung cancer in current smokers and those who quit smoking in the last 15 years.

These expanded guidelines allow for a broader group of at-risk individuals to be eligible for lung cancer screening and according to estimates,6 extend this service to around 80% more people than with the prior criteria.

It is also believed that these new criteria will lead to greater equity in eligibility across race and ethnicity. In fact, according to research published in JAMA Network Open, based on this update, 54% of individuals eligible for screening were Black, compared to only 39% based on the previous criteria.

What is Low-Dose CT Screening?

Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening for lung cancer is a specialized test that is used to find lung cancer before it is symptomatic and before it has spread.

The exam itself is quick and easy. While lying on your back, you are moved through a small donut-shaped machine – not a tunnel – so there is no worry of feeling claustrophobic. There are no needles for contrast or x-ray dye, and no need to fast before the exam.

Most importantly, this screening test is covered by almost all insurance plans for most people at high risk.

How Beneficial is Low-Dose CT Screening?

According to Dr. Scott Brandman, Director of Thoracic Imaging at Arizona Diagnostic Radiology, “about 46% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage when the disease has spread from the lung to other organs.” At this point, treatment is less likely to be successful because the key to surviving cancer is finding it in its earliest stage. To do this, Dr. Brandman urges anyone at high risk for lung cancer to have annual screenings with a Low Dose chest CT. He says, “If everyone at high risk for lung cancer had a screening chest CT, then we could find the cancer in an early stage when it is best treated. And that is how we can save lives.”

A recent study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology confirms the benefits of screening.7 In this study, implementation of lung cancer screening across five diverse health care systems lead to higher rates of stage-one diagnosis of lung cancer and lower rates of stage-four.

In yet another study worth noting, results showed that patients diagnosed with lung cancer at an early stage with Low-dose CT scanning, have a 20-year survival rate of 80%.This is a drastic improvement when you consider the average five-year survival rate for all lung cancer patients is 18.6%, because only 16% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage.

Getting A Low-Dose CT Screening

Dr. Brandman encourages everyone who is at high risk for lung cancer due to their smoking history to speak with their healthcare provider about getting a lung cancer screening CT. He adds, “My team is also happy to answer any questions and help you determine if you are high risk for lung cancer.” You can visit our website https://radnetimaging.com/low-dose-lung-ct-scan/ where you can find a tool to help you learn if you are eligible.

For anyone who might be hesitant about having the screening done, Dr. Brandman also wants you to know that the majority of screening tests do not find lung cancer. He says that 95% of the screening exams do not show lung cancer.

“When you started smoking you might not have known what the consequences would be or maybe you just didn’t think it would become a habit. Whatever your situation is, we understand and we value you” said Dr. Brandman.

Low-dose CT screening for lung cancer is also available at a RadNet site near you, because our goal is to find cancers as early as possible so people can live their healthiest lives.

Please visit www.RadNetImaging.com for a center near you.


  1. American Cancer Society -- https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

  2. American Cancer Society -- https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

  3. American Lung Association -- https://www.lung.org/research/state-of-lung-cancer/racial-and-ethnic-disparities

  4. National Library of Medicine -- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228072/

  5. National Library of Medicine -- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32020598/

  6. Healio - https://www.healio.com/news/hematology-oncology/20220317/updated-lung-cancer-screening-guidance-broadens-eligibility-but-challenges-remain

  7. Healio -- https://www.healio.com/news/hematology-oncology/20221212/lung-cancer-screening-leads-to-more-stage-i-less-stage-iv-disease-incidence

  8. Mount Sinai -- Lung Cancer Screening Dramatically Increases Long-term Survival Rate | Mount Sinai - New York

24 April, 2023

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