CT Scanning May Detect Early Lung Cancer and Save Lives, New Study Suggests
NEW YORK, NY -- November 3, 2006 -- Annual CT scanning can detect lung cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable, according to a large study that began at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center (N Engl J Med. 2006 Oct 26; 355(17): 1763-71). About 164,000 Americans die from lung cancer every year, often because the disease is discovered too late.
Also known as computed tomography, a CT scan combines multiple x-ray images to show detailed cross-sectional images of the body. The process can detect very small tumors. Over a 13-year period, researchers used CT scans to screen 31,567 people who were at high risk for lung cancer. The study group included former and current smokers as well as people exposed to asbestos or beryllium. Four hundred eighty-four participants were diagnosed with lung cancer, including 412 with early or stage 1 lung cancer.
The study followed participants for at least three years, and determined the 10-year estimated survival rate, which was 92% among those with stage 1 lung cancer who underwent surgery within one month of diagnosis. Untreated patients died within five years of diagnosis.
"We believe this study provides compelling evidence that CT screening for lung cancer offers new hope for millions of people at risk for this disease and could dramatically reverse lung cancer death rates," said Dr. Claudia Henschke, the study's lead author and chief of the chest imaging division at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell (News Release, International Early Lung Cancer Action Program, October 20, 2006). "This is a profoundly important report," agreed Dr. James Mulshine of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago (New York Times, October 25, 2006). "It is a remarkable result."
The National Lung Screening Trial
Some medical experts are more cautious about the study results, noting that all participants had CT scans, and there was no comparison group of people who did not have scans. Also, the 10-year survival period is a statistical estimate rather than an actual figure.
The National Cancer Institute is presently conducting a study of over 50,000 smokers and former smokers. The National Lung Screening Trial began in 2002 and stopped enrolling participants in 2004. Through 2009, the study will track the health of participants receiving CT scans as well as those who only receive regular chest x-rays. Those receiving chest x-rays are considered the control group.
Smoking is Not the Only Cause of Lung Cancer
Tobacco smoke is a major cause of lung cancer, but exposure to asbestos or beryllium can also lead to lung cancer. Studies have shown that the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, creating a cancer risk that is much higher than just adding the individual risks together.
Brayton Purcell is currently evaluating cases involving smokers and people injured by asbestos or beryllium. Please feel free to contact us if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, and were exposed to tobacco, asbestos or beryllium. We have been representing victims of toxic substances for over 20 years, and have an excellent track record of verdicts and settlements. We will review your case free of charge and advise you of your legal options.