CT Scans Not Always Effective in Detecting Lung Cancer
Posted on Jul 15, 2011
It's still up for debate whether or not low-dose spiral CT scans are an advantage to detecting lung cancer or produce too many false-positives.
A report from the National Lung Screening Trial recently cited in a New York Times article reveals this decade-long study showed both positive and negative data for the accuracy of CT scans performed on smokers.
The trial included more than 53,000 older smokers that underwent annual screenings with either the low-dose CT scan or a standard chest X-ray. The rate of deaths for those screened by CT was 20% lower than those screened with X-ray.
On the flip side, the CT scans also resulted in a 1 in 4 chance of doctors finding an abnormality that, when further tested, turned out to be harmless. Another concern raised with CT scans for lung cancer is also that they expose patients to more radiation and are more expensive.
Doctors are now being more selective as to when CT scans are more appropriate than standard chest X-rays for screening smokers for the early signs of lung cancer. Patients at a higher risk for developing cancer due to age or longevity of cigarette use may be better suited for a CT scan than younger patients with a lighter smoking history.
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