Lung Cancer - Early Detection the Key
For years there has been a great debate as to whether lung cancer, the biggest cancer killer in the US by far, can be detected early enough. The thought is that a screening program of people at high risk (typically former or active smokers) could lead to finding the cancer at its earliest stage when surgery has the highest chance of cure.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has been running such a program for years: over 50,000 of at risk, healthy individuals 55-74 years old were randomized to either a special low dose helical chest CT scan or a chest X-ray and followed for outcome. In a recent report the NCI Director Harold Varmus M.D. made public the initial results showing a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality in those undergoing the CT screening. “This is the first time we have seen such significant reduction in lung cancer mortality with a screening test in a large and well-executed trial” says Dr Mininberg. He goes on to say “Currently, screening helical chest CT is not an approved test for early detection of lung cancer but these findings will probably have huge implications on how we follow patients with a heavy history of smoking”. He also emphasizes “the focus will need to continue to be on efforts to help people stop smoking as well as providing education for smoking prevention.
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