A Mayo Clinic research has recently revealed that lung cancer risk remains high among ex-smokers 15 years later. Past studies had shown that smoking can boost chances to develop lung cancer by 100 percent.
Mayo researchers found that the risk is still relatively high after more than a decade. So, they now suggest that lung cancer screening should include former smokers that renounced the habit more than 15 years ago. The team believes that adding this group to the lung cancer risk cohort could result in more detected cases and saved lives.
Dr. Ping Yang, lead author of the study, acknowledged that the major step to take to lower chances of developing lung cancer is smoke cessation. But ignoring people at risk of lung cancer keeps patients away from early detection and boost their early mortality risk. Ex-smokers that quit the habit 15 years ago are currently not entitled to low-dose CT scans.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) considers that CT screening could be beneficial only to older adults (between age 55 and 80) who smoked for at least three decades at least one pack on a daily basis, or have been smoke-free within 15 years.
Still, Mayo Clinic investigators found that the number of people who quit smoking more than 15 years ago represents a large part of lung cancer patients that hadn’t been entitled to screening. Researchers found that the newly found risk group represents 12 percent of lung cancer patients in U.S. hospitals and 17 percent of these patients in communities.
Mayo researchers recommend more work to confirm their findings, since they only analyzed the data on former smokers living in Olmsted County, in Minnesota. If future studies confirm the research, the Mayo Clinic team recommends a change in federal guidelines on CT screening for lung cancer to include ex-smokers that quit more than 15 years ago.
A research paper detailing the findings was published this week in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most significant lung cancer risk factor is cigarette smoking. Next in line are second-hand smoke and exposure to radon, a hazardous gas that is naturally occurring but gets absorbed and released back by houses and buildings.
CDC reports show that 90 percent of lung cancer patients in the U.S. developed the condition because of smoking. Additionally, patients who used cigars and pipes were at the highest risk of lung cancer.
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