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Lung Cancer Screening

the National lung screening trial

enrolled over 53,000 subjects looking

for a way to reduce lung cancer

mortality and the patients who underwent

screening CT scans we were able to

reduce the lung cancer death rate by 20%

this means that for every 300 patients

screen we were able to save one life

lung cancer is the leading cause of

cancer death in the United States and

worldwide today for other cancers such

as the breast prostate gland cervix and

colon

we have screening tests that have been

shown to reduce cancer mortality the

results of this trial are particularly

important because for the first time we

are now able to show we can reduce lung

cancer death rates for the screening

test the only people who benefit from

this type of screening at people between

the ages of 55 and 74 years who've

smoked a certain amount and we currently

measure cigarettes exposure by term

called pack-years so one pack per day

for 30 years would be 30 packers only

people who smoke 30 or more pack years

were eligible to be enrolled in the

study and we know then that only those

people would benefit from this form

screening

well the results of this study are going

to prompt a lot of people to ask the

question why don't we screen everybody

and the simple answer is that this study

didn't enroll everybody enrolled a very

narrow segment of the population and

it's only that segment that we know can

benefit from through this form of

screening with CT scans done annually in

fact we know that we could probably do

more harm than good if we start

screening people who aren't at high risk

for lung cancer because of the fact that

we'll find many things that aren't

cancer it'll expose these people to

other tests some of which have risk one

of the drawbacks of screening for lung

cancer with CT is that many if not most

people undergoing the test will have

abnormalities that are not lung cancer

some of these are things like aneurysms

which are good to know about to prevent

mortality from that disease process but

other abnormalities are not very

specific and we don't know what they

mean for the patient they would have to

undergo additional diagnostic testing

some of which is quite invasive to

figure out the significance of these

findings this adds both cost as well as

potential

complications to their ongoing medical

care delivery this is an extremely

important finding

we've been waiting 40 years for the

results of screening studies to show

that we have a test that can truly

reduce one's chance of dying from lung

cancer so now to have a tool that we

know reduces one's chance of dying from

lung cancer is an extremely exciting

thing for those of us who deal with lung

cancer patients on a regular basis