Cancer: Volume 121, Issue 15, pages 2477–2478, August 1, 2015
Although smoking rates have declined in the United States, an unintended result is that fewer current and former smokers at high risk of developing lung cancer are being screened under existing guidelines, according to a study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“In the population we studied, the lung cancer incidence was declining by about 17% over the past 28 years—which is a good thing,” says lead author Ping Yang, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic. “At the same time, the percentage of people meeting the current screening criteria also dropped by 24%.”
Because most patients who eventually develop lung cancer are diagnosed at a later stage when it is too late to cure the disease, screening high-risk patients is the best method for detecting the disease at its earliest, most treatable stage. Nevertheless, current screening criteria established by the US government are missing some patients who will develop lung cancer, says Dr. Yang.