Development of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery guidelines for low-dose computed tomography scans to screen for lung cancer in North America: recommendations of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery Task Force for Lung Cancer Screening and Surveillance

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2012 Jul;144(1):25-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2012.05.059.


Objective: The study objective was to establish The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) lung cancer screening guidelines for clinical practice.

Methods: The AATS established the Lung Cancer Screening and Surveillance Task Force with multidisciplinary representation including 4 thoracic surgeons, 4 thoracic radiologists, 4 medical oncologists, 1 pulmonologist, 1 pathologist, and 1 epidemiologist. Members have engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations regarding lung cancer screening and clinical care of patients with, and at risk for, lung cancer. The task force reviewed the literature, including screening trials in the United States and Europe, and discussed local best clinical practices in the United States and Canada on 4 conference calls. A reference library supported the discussions and increased individual study across disciplines. The task force met to review the literature, state of clinical practice, and recommend consensus-based guidelines.

Results: Nine of 14 task force members were present at the meeting, and 3 participated by telephone. Two absent task force members were polled afterward. Six unanimous recommendations and supporting work-up algorithms were presented to the Council of the AATS at the 2012 annual meeting in San Francisco, California.

Conclusions: Annual lung cancer screening and surveillance with low-dose computed tomography is recommended for smokers and former smokers with a 30 pack-year history of smoking and long-term lung cancer survivors aged 55 to 79 years. Screening may begin at age 50 years with a 20 pack-year history of smoking and additional comorbidity that produces a cumulative risk of developing lung cancer of 5% or greater over the following 5 years. Screening should be undertaken with a subspecialty qualified interdisciplinary team. Patient risk calculator application and intersociety engagement will provide data needed to refine future lung cancer screening guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*
  • United States / epidemiology