The ACS is now recommending annual CT scans for high risk smokers - patients between 55 and 74 who smoke or have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years.
The new guidelines are already in operation at the Lung Disease Center of Central Pennsylvania, which offers a lung cancer early detection program.
Pulmonologist Dr. George Zlupko says, "it's just becoming part of the mainstream in medicine, but we've been doing this here at the Lung Center for about a year."
He hopes the American Cancer Society's endorsement of yearly CT scans prompts more smokers and their doctors to consider the test.
Most of the patients with lung cancer have no symptoms, he adds, and by the time they have symptoms, it's really too late to do surgery.
"We've had several patients we've picked up early in the course of events who are now alive," Dr. Zlupko says, "because we've been able to find their tumors early and have them removed."
The American Cancer Society's new screening guidelines include current smokers and those who have quit within the last 15 years.