Post image for CT scan found to lower lung cancer death rate

CT scan found to lower lung cancer death rate

by nickj on November 5, 2010

Research released by the National Cancer Institute reveals that screening tests for lung cancer may significantly reduce a smoker's risk of death.

Physicians conducted a study sponsored by the U.S. government and found that the noninvasive CT test reduced the odds of lung cancer death by 20 percent.

The National Lung Screening trial enrolled more than 53,000 smokers aged 55-74 who had smoked a pack a day for 30 years. The study was conducted at 33 sites across the U.S. and included a large, ethnically diverse group of subjects randomly assigned to be screened for lung cancer with either an x-ray or a spiral CT.

Results identified 442 lung cancer deaths among those who received X-rays and only 354 among those screened with helical computed tomography scans.

The research "suggest(s) that if low-dose helical CT screening is implemented responsibly, and individuals with abnormalities are judiciously followed, we have the potential to save thousands of lives," said Denise Aberle, the leader of the U.S. National Cancer Institute research, according to MSNBC.

Helical CT scans obtain a multiple-image scan of the entire chest at various angles, whereas the standard chest X-ray produces a single image of the whole chest, according to Daily News and Analysis.

Lung cancer is most frequently caused by cigarette smoking and is the leading cancer killer for both men and women worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More research is reportedly necessary to determine why CT-scan screening is linked to reduced lung cancer mortality, "the assumption is that a larger number of early cancers that would have been lethal were removed in patients who had undergone helical CT scanning," Harold Varmus, head of the NCI said according to Yahoo News.

Some experts say that the screening may cost too much to justify a national program despite its effectiveness. They assert that money should not be diverted away from quit-smoking programs which should be at the forefront of combating cancer, according to the the Sydney Morning Herald. 

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