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New lung cancer screening guidelines may reduce disparities

New recommendations for who should get CT lung cancer screening may provide more access to screening for African Americans, according to a new study that looked at how the new criteria would have worked in the past.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2021 changed its lung cancer screening eligibility guidelines to include adults ages 50 to 80 with a 20 pack-year smoking history. Previous research suggests that while African Americans typically have a shorter smoking history as measured in pack-years, they have the same or higher lung cancer risk than white individuals. Research has also shown that African Americans are also at risk for lung cancer at a younger age.

Applying the new guidelines to the subjects of a past clinical trial showed that roughly the same percentage of White and Black smokers would have been eligible for screening.

Unfortunately, the researchers pointed out that “these refinements of criteria do not address the nearly two-thirds of patients with diagnosed lung cancer who are not eligible for screening.”

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