Heavy smokers should get annual CT screening, thoracic surgeons say

Physicians should send patients with long histories of heavy smoking to lung cancer screenings using low-dose computed tomography every year, say guidelines issued by the American Assn. for Thoracic Surgery.

A multidisciplinary, 14-member task force established by the society recommends annual CT scans for patients 55 to 79 years old who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes daily for 30 years — that is, the number of packs smoked every day multiplied by the number of years patients kept the habit. For example, smoking two packs a day for 15 years would be equivalent to smoking a pack a day for 30 years and make screening a good idea.

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