June 26, 2019 (The Lancet)
The current criteria the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) uses to recommend lung cancer screening is that people are between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30-packs-per-year cigarette smoking history, and have quit within the past 15 years if they are former smokers.
However, previous research has shown that two-thirds of recently diagnosed lung cancer patients do not meet the current USPSTF criteria because they are either long-term quitters (quit over 15 years ago) or are from a younger age group (50-54 years old).
Research conducted by Dr. Yun-Hung Luo and Dr. Lei Luo and funded by the National Institute of Health and the Mayo Clinic Foundation, aimed to better understand these subgroups and their survival outcomes. Almost 9,000 patients were observed over a 20-year period, with 5-year overall survival rates being 27 percent for long-term quitters, 22 percent for those aged 50-54 upon diagnosis, and 23 percent for those that fit the USPSTF criteria.
Different analysis methods indicated that these differences were not statistically significant, which shows that patients with lung cancer that had quit smoking over 15 years ago or were between the ages of 50 and 54 but otherwise met USPSTF’s criteria for screening, had a similar risk of death to those that fully met the USPSTF criteria. This research shows that these subgroups can benefit from lung cancer screening and the USPSTF should consider expanding its current criteria to possibly allow for earlier detection of lung cancer and higher percentages of survival.