Under medical guidelines first introduced in 2012, physicians are supposed to discuss lung cancer screening in long-term smokers and ex-smokers. Unfortunately, less than 10% of doctors talk about screening with long-term smokers today. The low rate of patient-reported physician patient discussions is caused by negative attitudes among physicians about lung cancer screening and misunderstanding the information about its benefits for individual smokers.
Lung cancer screening in high-risk individuals is now also recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), following other professional organizations that have recommended the same. There had been controversy as to whether or not screening by way of chest x-rays and CT scan provided a true benefit in the fight against this cancer. Based on an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, annual screening with low-dose CT for people at high risk because of age and smoking history is now the recommended standard. High risk individuals are current and former smokers aged 55 to 80 years of age with a smoking history of 30 pack years or who have smoked in the last 15 years.