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Research Compares CT Scans And Chest X-Rays For Lung Cancer Screening

Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD, FRCS (C), FACS

Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD, FRCS (C), FACS

A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that CT screening reduced deaths from lung cancer by 20%. While it may seem intuitive that screening would help to detect lung cancers and reduce deaths, until now, that had not been definitively proven.

“This is a landmark study,” said Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD, Director of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, who lauded the study’s design and its clear implications for treating patients at risk for lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, but the merits of screening — whether or not it actually improves patient outcomes – has been a topic of debate for the last 30 years. Dr. Gorenstein believes that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Lung Cancer CT Scan Marketing Spreads Across The Country

Last week, after the National Lung Screening Trial results were released, David Sampson, American Cancer Society director of medical and scientific communications, wrote that “our greatest fear was that forces with an economic interest in the test would sidestep the scientific process and use the release of the data to start promoting CT scans. Frankly, even we are surprised how quickly that has happened.”

And, yes, the marketing has even hit fly-over country in the Twin Cities, with this ad appearing in the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune in the “A” section:


Of course, no where in the ad will you read about the potential harms of such scans, the false positive rate, what happens when you get a false positive (unnecessary followup testing and perhaps unnecessary treatment), and more costs. And nowhere in the ad will you read that 300 heavy smokers had to be scanned in order for just one to get a benefit of extending his life. But six clinics in this chain are standing by to take your money and do your scan.

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Screening For Lung Cancer: New Findings And Continued Controversy

Lung cancer screening has been an area of considerable controversy. Before today, there had been no evidence that screening patients for lung cancer, either with a CT scan or chest x-ray, saved lives.

For years, doctors have been waiting for the results of the large, randomized National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), conducted by the National Cancer Institute.

[Yesterday] it was announced that the trial was stopped early, with a bold, positive finding:

All participants had a history of at least 30 pack-years, and were either current or former smokers without signs, symptoms, or a history of lung cancer.

As of Oct. 20, 2010, the researchers saw a total of 354 deaths from lung cancer in the CT group, compared with 442 in the chest x-ray group.

That amounts to a 20.3% reduction in lung cancer mortality — a finding that the study’s independent data and safety monitoring board decided was statistically significant enough to halt the trial and declare a benefit.

Previously, only breast, colon, and cervical cancer has had the evidence back up its screening recommendations. It’s still early in the game, but it appears that lung cancer may be following in that same path. That said, there are a variety of concerns before opening up the floodgates to screening chest CTs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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