The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released their final recommendation regarding low dose CT scans as a screening tool for lung cancer.

As discussed on this blog previously, this much-anticipated finalization gives a “Grade B” recommendation to annual low dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer in adults age 55 to 80 with a 30 pack-year history of cigarette smoking, who are active smokers or have smoked cigarettes within 15 years. This Grade B recommendation means that, “USPSTF recommends the service. There is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.” A Grade B recommendation also means that insurers should soon begin offering this preventive service without cost in plans under the Affordable Care Act.

People who have a history of occupational exposure to asbestos and diesel exhaust, like railroad workers, should be particularly vigilant about discussing lung cancer screening options with their doctor. Asbestos exposure acts synergistically with cigarette smoking, greatly increasing the risk of cancer more than for either factor alone. Only a doctor can determine whether lung cancer screening is appropriate, but your doctor needs to know about all of your exposures – not just cigarette smoking. So if you are a railroad worker who has been exposed to toxic substances at the railroad, make sure you tell your doctor about all of your exposure – asbestos, diesel fumes, diesel exhaust, cleaners, and any other toxic substance you worked around at the railroad.