New US guidelines lower lung cancer screening age to 50 and reduce smoking history requirement to 20 pack-years, expanding preventative scans to save more lives.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently changed who they recommend should get screened for lung cancer. Screening means testing people for cancer even when they have no symptoms.

The task force now says more adults aged 50 to 80 should get annual low-dose CT scans to check for lung cancer based on their smoking history. In the past, the recommendations focused on adults aged 55 to 80 who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years or more. The updated guidelines expand screening to more people 50 to 80 years old who have a 20 pack-year history, meaning they smoked about a pack per day for 20 years. The change comes because more evidence shows screening some lower-risk people can still save lives by finding lung cancer earlier. The potential benefits now outweigh the risks for more people.

The recommendations are meant to guide doctors, but individuals should talk with their provider to assess their lung cancer risk and if screening is appropriate.

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