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CT screening for early lung cancer leads to long-term survival

Axial CT images of pulmonary nodules. (A) Malignant nodule. (B) Benign nodule. Image credit – RSNA

CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 27, 2022 – A new study shows that early detection of lung cancer with CT scanning dramatically increases long-term survival.

The study led by Claudia Henschke, PhD, MD of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, follows 87,000 participants at 80 cancer centers who have been diagnosed with early stage lung cancer. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

“While screening doesn’t prevent cancers from occurring, it (CT scanning) is an important tool in identifying lung cancers in their early stage when they can be surgically removed,” Henschke said in a press release.

The study shows that while targeted treatments of more advanced-stage cancers with immunotherapy have improved outcomes dramatically, the best tool for prevent deaths is early diagnosis through low-dose CT screening before symptoms appear.

The International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) started in 1992. In 2006 the data showed that 10-year survival for patients whose cancer had been identified by CT screening was 80 percent.

In the current study the results show the same 80 percent survival rate after 20 years for the 1,285 I-ELCAP participants. The survival rate for both the 139 participants with non-solid cancerous lung nodules and 155 participants with part-solid consistency was 100 percent. For the 991 participants with solid nodules, the survival rate was 73 percent.

In short, the findings show that after 20 years, patients diagnosed with early stage lung cancer with CT screening and treated with surgery when the cancer is small enough, patients can be effectively cured long-term.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening with low-dose CT in adults aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Source: Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) press release


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