Screening for lung cancer: 2023 guideline update from the American Cancer Society

CA Cancer J Clin. 2024 Jan-Feb;74(1):50-81. doi: 10.3322/caac.21811. Epub 2023 Nov 1.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of mortality and person-years of life lost from cancer among US men and women. Early detection has been shown to be associated with reduced lung cancer mortality. Our objective was to update the American Cancer Society (ACS) 2013 lung cancer screening (LCS) guideline for adults at high risk for lung cancer. The guideline is intended to provide guidance for screening to health care providers and their patients who are at high risk for lung cancer due to a history of smoking. The ACS Guideline Development Group (GDG) utilized a systematic review of the LCS literature commissioned for the US Preventive Services Task Force 2021 LCS recommendation update; a second systematic review of lung cancer risk associated with years since quitting smoking (YSQ); literature published since 2021; two Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network-validated lung cancer models to assess the benefits and harms of screening; an epidemiologic and modeling analysis examining the effect of YSQ and aging on lung cancer risk; and an updated analysis of benefit-to-radiation-risk ratios from LCS and follow-up examinations. The GDG also examined disease burden data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program. Formulation of recommendations was based on the quality of the evidence and judgment (incorporating values and preferences) about the balance of benefits and harms. The GDG judged that the overall evidence was moderate and sufficient to support a strong recommendation for screening individuals who meet the eligibility criteria. LCS in men and women aged 50-80 years is associated with a reduction in lung cancer deaths across a range of study designs, and inferential evidence supports LCS for men and women older than 80 years who are in good health. The ACS recommends annual LCS with low-dose computed tomography for asymptomatic individuals aged 50-80 years who currently smoke or formerly smoked and have a ≥20 pack-year smoking history (strong recommendation, moderate quality of evidence). Before the decision is made to initiate LCS, individuals should engage in a shared decision-making discussion with a qualified health professional. For individuals who formerly smoked, the number of YSQ is not an eligibility criterion to begin or to stop screening. Individuals who currently smoke should receive counseling to quit and be connected to cessation resources. Individuals with comorbid conditions that substantially limit life expectancy should not be screened. These recommendations should be considered by health care providers and adults at high risk for lung cancer in discussions about LCS. If fully implemented, these recommendations have a high likelihood of significantly reducing death and suffering from lung cancer in the United States.

Keywords: American Cancer Society; United States; humans; low-dose computed tomography; lung neoplasms/incidence; lung neoplasms/mortality/radiography; mass screening; neoplasms/diagnosis; prevent and control.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • American Cancer Society
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Smoking* / adverse effects
  • Smoking* / epidemiology
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology