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Lung cancer screening recommendations

The number-one risk factor for developing lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma) is smoking. If you smoke, you should get help quitting. You can call the national Smokers' Helpline (1-800 QUIT-NOW) for programs in your state or ask your primary care doctor for help.

Aside from smoking, you are at increased risk of lung cancer if you have had:

  • lung cancer before
  • occupational exposure to asbestos
  • previous radiation to the chest for treating other cancer
  • prolonged exposure to high levels of radon
  • chronic high-level exposure to second-hand smoke

Screening recommendations

Ages 55-80: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screenings if you've had a 30 pack-year smoking history (meaning about a pack a day for 30 years); are a current smoker; or if you've quit within the past 15 years. Screening consists of a low-dose CT scan, conducted at a specialized center.

Based on your risks, you should discuss the need for screening with your health care provider. At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, we're conducting ongoing research to determine if certain tests are reliable for further screening.

Related links

Find out five things to know about lung cancer.

Ask the expert: Q & A on lung (thoracic) cancer 

Watch a video about lung cancer genetic research.

Read about a study that reports success in targeted therapy for common form of lung cancer.

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