New recommendation encourages more activist approach to lung cancer screening

PROVIDENCE, RI Physicians caring for people at high risk for lung cancer should assume responsibility of informing their patients about options for screening for lung cancer, according to a group of international physicians. This is the central recommendation of the "Como International Conference Position Statement," published in the April issue of Chest. The recommendation goes beyond existing public policy recommendations.

The position statement strongly encourages asymptomatic men and women over 45 to 50 years of age, who are current or former cigarette smokers, to enroll in clinical trials that offer screening for lung cancer. However, if such clinical trials are not available, patients should be informed about options for lung cancer screening, which currently include chest X-ray (or chest radiography) and computed tomography (CT).

High-risk individuals should be informed that when lung cancer is diagnosed because of the presence of symptoms, the disease is usually in advanced stage and incurable. On the other hand, they should also be told that surgical treatment of asymptomatic early stage lung cancer offers a reasonably high chance of cure. While acknowledging uncertainties and controversies regarding the value of screening for lung cancer, the position statement asserts that "it is wrong for these discussions not to take place." The position statement concludes that "after discussion of the current state of knowledge, it is reasonable for an individual at risk to choose to undergo testing for lung cancer."

The paper is authored by physicians from Rhode Island Hospital, Georgetown University, Mayo Clinic, City of Hope National Medical Center and the University of Insubria in Varese, Italy.

Currently, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other public policy organizations do not recommend testing for early lung cancer detection. Instead, policy organizations have advised cigarette smokers to quit smoking, and they r

Contact: Nicole Gustin

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