The American Cancer Society has just updated their lung cancer screening guidelines in an effort to increase earlier detection. It expands the recommendation of yearly screening via low-dose CT scan to most people aged 50 to 80 years old who have a 20-year or greater pack-year history, regardless of current smoking status or how long ago someone has quit smoking. (A pack-year is defined as smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year.)
These guideline changes bring renewed attention to lung cancer. How common is it? What are the different kinds of lung cancers? Other than smoking, what are risk factors? Why does early detection matter? What kinds of treatments exist? And what can people do to reduce their risk of these cancers?
To guide us through these questions, I spoke with our CNN wellness medical expert, Dr. Leana Wen. Wen is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.