Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CT screening cuts lung cancer death better than X-ray

So now even smokers have a glimpse of hope...
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WASHINGTON: Screening heavy smokers with low-dose computer tomography (CT) instead of X-rays reduces deaths from lung cancer by 20 percent, a massive US study released on Thursday shows.

Previous studies have shown that helical CT scanning can identify small tumours in the early stages of growth better than X-rays.

"But it's never been shown before conclusively that the procedure has an effect on the ultimate outcome, namely lung cancer mortality," Harold Varmus, head of the National Cancer Institute, told reporters.

Although more research is needed to determine why CT-scan screening was tied to such a significant drop in 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," said Varmus.

Helical CT uses X-rays to obtain a multiple-image scan of the entire chest during seven to 15 seconds.

The findings are from the eight-year-long National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), in which researchers around the United States enrolled more than 50,000 current and former heavy smokers, aged 55-74, to determine whether screening with low-dose helical, or spiral, CT would reduce lung cancer mortality.

Participants who took part in the study at 33 centres across the United had on average "30 pack-years of smoking", or the equivalent of smoking a pack a day for 30 years, and were either current smokers or had quit in the last 15 years.

They were randomly assigned to receive annual screening for three years, either with low-dose CT or conventional X-rays, at the start of the study in 2002.

All deaths from lung cancer were documented, and when researchers reviewed the data, they found that a 20-percent drop in lung cancer mortality among patients who were screened using CT.

"This finding has important implications for public health with the potential to save many lives among those at greatest risk for lung cancer," said Varmus.

"But this screening does not prevent lung cancer and doesn't protect the large majority of subjects from death from lung cancer," he added, stressing that the best way to prevent smoking-related lung illness was to quit smoking or never start.

Doctors project that some 157,000 people in the United States will die of lung cancer this year, the vast majority of them current or former heavy smokers.

- AFP/de


From ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:
CT screening cuts lung cancer death better than X-ray
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