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New Website Aims to Save Lives by Helping Institutions Launch Lung Cancer Screening Programs



Nov. 1, 2018─The American Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative have launched a new website and online toolkit to help medical institutions implement and manage a lung cancer screening program.

The website and toolkit can be found at LungCancerScreeningGuide.org.

In 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial reported that annual low-dose computed chest tomography could save the lives of current and former smokers at high risk of developing lung cancer by detecting the cancer early. In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began covering the lung cancer screening test. Plans purchased through state marketplaces and most private insurers are also required to cover the diagnostic test.

Only a small fraction of the estimated eight to nine million individuals who meet the criteria for the screening have taken advantage of this potentially life-saving procedure.

“Hospitals face multiple barriers in implementing lung cancer screening,” said Carey C. Thomson, MD, MPH, director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program and chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Mount Auburn Hospital in Massachusetts. Dr. Thomson co-chaired the ATS and Lung Association effort with Andrea B. McKee, MD, co-chair of the Lung Cancer Screening Steering Committee and chief of radiation oncology at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Massachusetts.

“These barriers include knowledge gaps regarding current recommendations, CMS lung cancer screening shared decision-making requirements, logistical challenges and limited resources for program implementation, smoker stigmatization and self-stigmatization, and racial bias, among others,” the two physicians wrote in an editorial on the collaborative effort published in the Nov. 1 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

To address the challenges institutions face in beginning a lung cancer screening program and managing it successfully, the ATS and the Lung Association created a Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide now available at LungCancerScreeningGuide.org. The guide was developed by a panel of experts involved in all aspects of U.S. lung cancer screening programs recognized for their high quality.

Importantly, Dr. Thomson says, the guide offers several potential solutions to the operational challenges presented by launching a lung cancer screening program. The panelists recognized that successful programs had to work in the context of the particular institutions and practices offering the service.

Among the lung cancer screening topics covered by the new website and implementation guide are:

  • ATS policy statements and guidelines for lung cancer screening
  • Program structures and management models
  • Provider outreach and education
  • CMS requirements
  • Quality metric reporting
  • Clinical decision support tools
  • Reporting examination results
  • Tracking data and registry reporting
  • Smoking cessation counseling

Both the website and implementation guide provide tools for documentation and data collection within the electronic health record, sample forms and patient outreach materials. 

LungCancerScreeningGuide.org, which is supported by the ATS Thoracic Oncology Assembly and American Lung Association, will be updated annually and will be accessible through the ATS, Lung Association and American Cancer Society National Lung Cancer Roundtable websites. 

“Our goal with this collaboration is to reduce mortality from lung cancer through expansion of high-quality lung cancer screening programs,” Dr. Thomson said, adding the website will be a “living resource” that will evolve as more knowledge is gained about lung cancer screening.

Contact for Media

Carey Thomson, MD, MPH



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About the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (AJRCCM):

The AJRCCM is a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Thoracic Society. The Journal takes pride in publishing the most innovative science and the highest quality reviews, practice guidelines and statements in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. With an impact factor of 15.239, it is the highest ranked journal in pulmonology. Editor: Jadwiga Wedzicha, MD, professor of respiratory medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute (Royal Brompton Campus), Imperial College London, UK.


About the American Thoracic Society:

Founded in 1905, the American Thoracic Society is the world's leading medical association dedicated to advancing pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. The Society’s 15,000 members prevent and fight respiratory disease around the globe through research, education, patient care and advocacy. The ATS publishes three journals, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology and the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.


The ATS will hold its 2019 International Conference, May 17-22, in Dallas, Texas, where world-renowned experts will share the latest scientific research and clinical advances in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.



LUNG FORCE is a new national movement led by the American Lung Association to unite women against lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women. LUNG FORCE has three priorities: 1) Make lung cancer a cause that people care about—and act on; 2) Educate and empower patients and healthcare providers and 3) Raise critical funds for lung cancer research. The American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE is nationally presented by CVS Health. Find out more at LUNGFORCE.org.