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Panel backs lung cancer screening for some smokers

July 29, 2013 • Business


FILE – In a June 3, 2010, file photo, Dr. Steven Birnbaum works with a patient in a CT scanner at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, N.H. For the first time, government advisers are recommending screening for lung cancer, saying certain current and former smokers should get annual scans to cut their chances of dying of the disease. Reports on the screening were published Monday, July 29, 2013, in Annals of Internal Medicine. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

For the first time, government advisers are recommending screening for lung cancer, saying certain current and former heavy smokers should get annual scans to cut their chances of dying of the disease.

If it becomes final as expected, the advice by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force would clear the way for insurers to cover CT scans, a type of X-ray, for those at greatest risk.

That would be people ages 55 through 79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years. Whether screening would help younger or lighter smokers isn’t known, so scans are not advised for them. They also aren’t for people who quit at least 15 years ago, or people too sick or frail to undergo cancer treatment.

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