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November 1, 2022

UVA, Other Top Cancer Groups Seek to Boost Lung Cancer Screening 

Image of the lungs

UVA Health Cancer Center is joining more than 50 other top cancer organizations in calling to increase access to and use of low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans for Americans at high risk for lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for almost 25% of all cancer deaths. Despite advances in treatment and successful efforts to reduce smoking, the disease kills more than 350 people in the U.S. each day. Lung cancer is so deadly because it is most often diagnosed at an advanced stage when treatment options are limited and outcomes are poor.

“Unfortunately, greater than 70% of lung cancers are detected too late, when the chance for a cure is much lower,” said Michael Hanley, MD, a lung cancer screening expert at UVA Health Cancer Center.  “The goal of screening is to detect cancers early on, when there is a high chance for a cure and a return to normal life.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening for people ages 50-80 who have smoked at least a pack a day for 20 years (or an equivalent). However, only 5.7% of eligible Americans were screened for lung cancer before the COVID-19 pandemic — while screening rates for breast, cervical and colon cancers ranged between 60% and 80%. In addition, screening rates have decreased for all cancers because of the pandemic.

The new effort aligns with and supports the national Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to reduce cancer deaths by 50% over the next 25 years. Lung cancer screening is one easy way to help reach that goal. This call to action provides guidance for national support, including public funding and health policy changes needed to significantly improve lung cancer screening. 

For more information about lung cancer screening at UVA Health, please visit

Calling attention to the need for lung cancer screening is part of UVA Health Cancer Center’s ongoing mission to find new and better ways to diagnose and treat cancer in all its forms.

UVA Health Cancer Center this year became one of only 53 cancer centers in the country designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. The designation recognizes elite cancer centers with the most outstanding cancer programs in the nation. Comprehensive Cancer Centers must meet rigorous standards for innovative research and leading-edge clinical trials.

UVA Health Cancer Center is the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in Virginia.

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