UNDATED (AP) - The government says more cancer deaths could be prevented if certain current and former heavy smokers get annual CT scans, a type of X-ray.
It's the first time the government has gotten behind lung cancer screening for heavy smokers.
Monday's advice by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is a draft recommendation. If it becomes final as expected, it would clear the way for insurers to cover the scans. The panel recommends them for people ages 55 through 79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years.
Whether screening would help younger or lighter smokers is not known, so scans aren't advised for them. Scans also aren't advised for people who quit at least 15 years ago or people too sick or frail to undergo cancer treatment.