Lung cancer screening can detect tumors while they are still small and more likely to be successfully treated. Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is an effective lung cancer screening tool appropriate for high-risk patients. For specific patients, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) all recommend annual LDCT to screen for lung cancer.
The National Lung Screening Trial
The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), one of the largest clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health, investigated the ability of LDCT to reduce mortality from lung cancer. More than 53,000 patients with a history of smoking were included in the trial. Results from the trial demonstrated that LDCT lung cancer screening reduced mortality by 20 percent.
Patients included in the study were current or former smokers aged 55 to 74 and had at least a 30-pack-year smoking history (i.e., 1 pack per day for 30 years, 2 packs per day for 15 years, etc.). There were two groups in the study. One received three rounds of annual chest X-ray and the second received three rounds of annual LDCT.
There were fewer deaths and more cancers detected in the group receiving LDCT than in the group receiving annual X-ray. The results, published August 2011 in New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that LDCT can aid in the early detection of lung cancer and reduce mortality from lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
These results have important implications for the 94 million former and current smokers in the United States who will benefit from annual LDCT lung cancer screening. The medical community widely agrees on screening guidelines for these patients.
“The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.” – USPSTF Lung Cancer Screening Reccomendations.
Lung cancer screening could potentially save your life if you are a current or former smoker. If you have questions about screening or if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, please contact us.