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 KevinMD.com*