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Chest X-Ray Screening Finds Early-Stage Lung Cancer

Higher rates found in former and current smokers

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- About 44% of lung cancers detected by chest X-rays are early-stage tumors, according to the findings of a large screening study reported in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The overall detection rate was 1.9 per 1,000 screens, although the rate was 6.3 per 1,000 screens in current smokers and 4.9 per 1,000 screens in former smokers who had smoked in the past 15 years.

Martin M. Oken, M.D., of the Hubert H. Humphrey Cancer Center in Robbinsdale, Minn., and members of the PLCO Project Team studied 154,942 patients with no history of lung cancer. Of these, 77,465 patients who were current or former smokers or who had never smoked received a single-view posterior-anterior chest X-ray.

According to the study, 5,991 (8.9%) of radiographs showed signs of lung cancer. Of these, 206 patients underwent a biopsy and 126 were diagnosed with lung cancer, of which 44% were found to be stage I non-small-cell lung cancer.

"In the baseline screen, nearly half the cancers were stage I," the authors conclude. "The answer to the important question of reduction in lung cancer mortality must await analysis of the two study arms as these data mature."

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