New lung cancer screening guidelines from three medical groups recommend annual scans but only for an older group of current or former heavy smokers.
The advice applies only to those aged 55 to 74. The risks of screening younger or older smokers or nonsmokers outweigh any benefits, according to the guidelines.
About 8 million Americans would be eligible for screening under the new criteria, and if all of them got the scans, about 4,000 lung cancer deaths per year could be prevented, said Dr. Peter Bach of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
He chaired the expert panel that wrote the new guidelines for the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
The recommended screening involves low-dose CT scans, which are a special kind of X-ray that can detect lung cancer early, but also can have false-positive results.