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Expanding access to lung cancer screenings still leaves some at-risk Black and Hispanic smokers ineligible

Black and Hispanic smokers are still less likely to be eligible for lung cancer screenings than white counterparts, despite a federal effort to expand the screenings to more individuals. The change did increase overall eligibility from 11 percent to 14 percent of adults, but existing disparities among racial and ethnic groups persisted, according to researcher Anand Naryan, MD (above).

Under new guidelines, 9 percent of those identifying as Black, 5 percent of those identifying as Hispanic and 5 percent of those identifying as Asian were eligible for the CT scans, while 15 percent of those identifying as white were eligible.

“The problem with that is if Black individuals who have previously smoked or currently smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer at lower levels of cigarette smoke usage, then they are at higher risk. And if you create criteria that are exclusively based on a pack-year number, you may end up excluding patients, specifically Black patients who are at higher risk of developing lung cancer,” Narayan said.

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