Annual Lung Cancer CT Screening Adviced For Heavy Smokers

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Heavy cigarette smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer claiming maximum number of lives annually. Early diagnosis of the cancer gives an opportunity to reduce their risk of death in both men and women.


American Cancer Society suggests a yearly CT scan screening to those who are at high risk of lung cancers before it is too late. Smokers who smoked a pack of cigarettes for 30 years and ex-smokers who quit smoking within 15 years, between 55 and 74 years of age are considered as high risk people for lung cancers.  In such patients, low-dose spiral CT scan effectively saved lives compared to screening with chest X-ray.


National Institute of Cancer studied 53,454 men and women in good health and at high risk of lung cancer with smoking history. Half of the patients are screened with low-dose CT scan and the other half with chest X-ray. They were screened three times in two years. After 5 to 7 years, 443 Patients died of lung cancers that are screened with X-rays, whereas only 356 deaths occurred in those who were screened with CT scan. The findings published in 2011 showed that there is 20 per cent decrease in the risk of lung cancer deaths with CT screening. 


American cancer society suggests CT screening for only high risk patients. It recommends screening only at diagnostic centres with  skill and experience to avoid false positive screens  as the trial results showed that for every of 5 to 6 lives saved by CT screening   one was lost due to unnecessary diagnostic investigations. 


Proper discussing with the physician before the diagnostic screening is necessary to reap all the benefits. The benefits of screening for high risk people may surpass the potential risk.

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