(NBC News) In a move that could affect millions of current and former smokers, a highly influential, independent panel of medical experts is recommending yearly screening for healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 80 at high risk for lung cancer.

The screening would be done with low-dose computed tomography, commonly known as CT scans — and the panel’s recommendation could require new insurance plans to cover them under the Affordable Care Act.

“There are about 160,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year,” says Dr. Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, whose recommendation is published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “More people die from lung cancer than the total combined deaths from breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.”

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