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CT screenings for lung cancer could save thousands of lives

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 11, 2013

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Screening for lung cancer using low-dose computed tomography for adults eligible for such a screen could prevent about 12,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S., or 7.6% of the annual total, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in Cancer.

The National Lung Screening Trial, conducted from 2002-09, found that compared with chest x-ray screening, LDCT screening reduces lung cancer mortality by 20% among current and former smokers (those who quit at least 15 years ago) ages 55 to 74 who smoked at least 30 pack-years, the study said. That threshold equates to smoking one pack per day for 30 years, or two packs per day for 15 years.

Researchers examined the data, as well as 2010 U.S. Census figures and health information from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They determined that in 2010, about 8.6 million Americans were eligible for LDCT screening for lung cancer, according to criteria used in the National Lung Screening Trial. Researchers combined that finding with information on lung cancer death rates to estimate the impact of expanded LDCT screening on lung cancer mortality (link).

The study authors said more research was needed to project the number of preventable lung cancer deaths and the cost effectiveness of LDCT screening.

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