Article Content

Could annual screening for lung cancer raise 10-year survival rates? Results of a major study suggest that it would.


Researchers screened nearly 32,000 asymptomatic adults age 40 and older using spiral computed tomography (CT). The study subjects were at risk for lung cancer due to a history of smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, or occupational exposure to certain carcinogens. Over 27,000 repeat screenings were conducted 7 to 18 months after baseline screening.


Screening resulted in a lung cancer diagnosis for 484 people: 405 at baseline screening and 74 at a subsequent screening. Five patients were diagnosed when they developed symptoms. The overall estimated survival rate for this group was 80%.


Of this group, 412 had stage I cancer, which carries an estimated 10-year survival rate of 88%. Among the 302 people with stage 1 cancer who underwent surgery within 1 month of diagnosis, the survival rate was 92%.


Currently in the United States, 95% of all people who receive a lung cancer diagnosis die within 5 years. Researchers say their data suggest that 80% of these deaths could be prevented with annual spiral CT screening. They also say that, like mammography screening, the screenings would be cost-effective.


SourceThe International Early Lung Cancer Action Program Investigators, Survival of patients with stage I lung cancer detected on CT screening, The New England Journal of Medicine, October 26, 2006.