CT Screening Does Not Reduce Lung Cancer Deaths

Screening has no impact on diagnosis of advanced-stage lung cancer or death

TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- While routine computed tomography (CT) screening can help detect lung cancer earlier in current and former smokers, it has no effect on diagnosis of advanced-stage lung cancer or death from lung cancer in this group, researchers report in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Peter B. Bach, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues measured the frequency of lung cancer detection, resection, advanced-stage lung cancer diagnosis and death from lung cancer in 3,246 asymptomatic current or former smokers undergoing yearly CT screening compared with predicted results from no screening.

The investigators found that patients monitored by CT screening were three times as likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10 times more likely to undergo lung cancer surgery: 144 diagnoses and 109 surgeries occurred compared with the expected rate of 44 diagnoses and 11 surgeries. However, the routine screening did not help reduce the rate of diagnosis of advanced-stage lung cancer or the number of deaths as a result of lung cancer, compared to the predicted values.

"Although expensive and time-consuming, rigorous trials of cancer screening are far more cost-effective than what might be the alternative -- widespread adoption of costly screening interventions that cause more harm than good," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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