Lung cancer screening: cutting costs, saving lives

Learn about the ERS position and access materials

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Europe; it causes more deaths than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. When lung cancer is detected based on symptoms, the disease is already at an advanced stage, making curative treatments impossible in up to 90% of cases.

CT (computed tomography) screening for lung cancer uses up to 90% less radiation than a conventional chest CT scan and is four times more likely to pick up an early tumour than a traditional chest X-ray. Finding tumours earlier means a curable treatment can be performed – improving outcomes for patients and reducing medical costs.

To change the fate of lung cancer in Europe, the European Respiratory Society (ERS) calls for EU level initiatives to support targeted and effective lung cancer screening programmes across EU Member States.

Materials on lung cancer screening


Watch the ERS short film: ‘Lung cancer screening: cutting costs, saving lives’, to learn about the live-saving potential of CT-scan screening programmes.

This film was produced by ERS (in 2019) to inform policymakers, patients, the general public, the scientific community and the healthcare field, and urge for EU political initiatives that introduce targeted and effective lung cancer screening programmes throughout EU Member States.


Developed by topic experts from ERS and the European Society of Radiology (ESR), this factsheet focuses on the calls by ERS & ESR for the implementation of lung cancer CT-screening programmes across the EU. The factsheet covers:

• What is a CT-scan?
• Why roll it out for high-risk populations?
• What can the European Union do?
• ERS/ESR recommendations
• Critical points: explained


The ERS and ESR position paper (published 13 February, 2020) is a contemporary, non-systematic review of the literature and common practice in lung cancer screening in Europe, which also refers to the important NELSON study results. The paper covers:

• An overview of lung cancer screening activities in Europe and participation in screening trials
• Tobacco cessation
• Overdiagnosis and harms
• Additional and incidental findings as a result of screening, such as the identification of the “big three” killers (lung cancer, COPD and cardiovascular disease)
• Molecular biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer
• Cost-effectiveness of screening
• Lung cancer screening action plan

Both ERS and the ESR agree that Europe’s healthcare systems need to allow citizens to benefit from organised pathways to early diagnosis and reduced mortality of lung cancer. Access the ERS /ESR statement.


  • Infographics

Download and share ERS infographics on lung cancer and lung cancer screening to help raise awareness and inform the public, healthcare givers and policymakers about lung cancer screening.

The infographics are suitable for use on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

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