Steelworkers' union wants lung cancer screening

The United Steelworkers union on Tuesday demanded immediate screening for lung cancer in the wake of a massive study that found CT scans of heavy smokers resulted in 20 percent fewer deaths than standard chest X-ray screening.

"We are now presented with an enormous opportunity to save workers from dying from lung cancer," USW International President Leo Gerard said in a statement. "Millions of workers have been exposed to asbestos, silica, chromium, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel and combustion products — and all of these exposures are firmly established as causes of human lung cancer.

"Union health and safety leaders and others need to meet in the very near future in Washington DC to devise a strategy for assuring that high risk workers are among the first to obtain the benefits of this new screening method," Gerard added.

The eight-year trial by the National Cancer Institute involved more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers. Groups such as the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventive Services Task Force have yet to release screening recommendations because the data have yet to be more fully analyzed.