CT screening boosts odds for surviving lung cancer

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 21st, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Since 1900, the number of cases of lung cancer has risen faster than any other form of cancer. While survival rates have been climbing for other malignancies, the survival rates for lung cancer remain dismal.

In the U-S, about one-hundred-and-seventy-three-thousand new cases of lung cancer occur each year. About ninety-five percent of those people die. That’s more than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Lung cancer’s the leading cause of cancer deaths among American men and women. The most common cause? Cigarette smoking.

The news about lung cancer is not all gloom and doom, though. A new international study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that lung cancer can be detected at its earliest stage in eighty-five percent of patients through yearly C-T screening exams. When followed by prompt surgical removal of the tumor, the ten-year survival rate among those diagnosed is more than ninety percent.

The seven-nation study, led by Weill Cornell Medical Center researchers, involved more than thirty-thousand people.

Four-hundred-eighty-four participants were diagnosed with lung cancer, mostly in the earliest phase. The estimated ten-year survival rate was eighty percent, but among those who chose not to be treated, all died within five years.

The Cornell trial was the largest long-term study to determine the usefulness of annual screening by C-T scanning. While the findings have merit, randomized controlled studies are under way that should shed more light on what role C-T ultimately should play among various molecular and radiographic approaches to lung cancer screening.