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Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations

This week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new guidelines for low dose CT lung cancer screening. These recommendations significantly expand the field of people who should get screening. If followed, lung cancer deaths – and lung cancer now causes the most deaths - could be reduced significantly.

The new recommendations suggest screening people ages 50 to 80 who have a 20- year pack a day smoking history, even if they quit smoking as long as 15 years before. Previously, the starting age was 55 with a 30-year smoking history.

The Task Force’s recommendations typically become the standard nationwide and there is no reason to think that this will not be the case with this issue. Implementation, however, is another issue. Sometimes it takes a while – sometimes a long while – for healthcare providers to begin making the recommendation to their patients. Needless lives are lost.

Even under the old guidelines which have been around for nearly a decade, low dose CT screening is not as commonplace as it should be. In our nationwide FTCA medical malpractice work, we see this is frequently missed by the VA. The consequences can be tragic.

For more than 30 years, we have handled cases involving failures to diagnose cancer and delays in diagnosing cancer. We done this on both sides, plaintiff and defense. These are not easy cases, and many lawyers shy away from them. That’s not hard to understand. The medicine is complex and often esoteric. Causation arguments are complicated – often even when there is a clear miss, such as obvious x-rays findings not being acted upon. Picking these cases and prosecuting them is always a challenge, but it is one which we relish.

If you think you have a failure to diagnose cancer case, we are happy to review it. We welcome referrals and we have worked with lawyers all over the country.


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