According to new research conducted by scientists at the Intermountain Medical Centre in Salt Lake City, owing to the latest Computed Tomography (CT) scanning techniques, it is now possible to detect whether people with a history of smoking are at risk or are more likely to develop lung cancer in the future.
These are the results of a National Lung Screening Trial which compared CT scans to normal chest X-rays in smokers or people with a history of smoking over the past 30 years. The study showed that patients who underwent CT scans had almost a 15 to 20 percent lower risk of dying due to lung cancer when compared with those who only preformed chest X-rays.
The study was led by Denitza Blagev, MD, a pulmonologist at Intermountain Medical Center, and her colleagues, who presented their data at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Denver. This study took place between September 2014 and March 2015 and initially gave CT scans to 375 patients, 272 of whom were eligible to continue in the program.
These patients had a smoking history of at least 30 pack years (they smoked at least one pack of cigarettes for the past 30 years), or were current smokers with no visible signs of lung cancer. Of these eligible patients, 19 scans found evidence of malignant cancer, of which 11 were confirmed malignant. A total of 8 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer, with 3 considered as early stage lung cancer. Detecting these three cases within the first 18 months was considered a major milestone with far-reaching benefits.
According to Dr. Blagev, “Our goal is to save every life that we can. Our results are comparable to the National Lung Screening Trial, in which it was deemed a success if they prevented just one cancer death for every 320 patients screened. The program we created from this study detected three early stage lung cancers in the fi 357 patients screened, which is incredible”. She further went on to add, “Results from the National Lung Screening Trial and from our program have shown that screenings are very effective and will greatly benefit our patients going forward. These results will also help our patients financially as well. As of February of this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a statement about how they will cover the cost of screenings for lung cancer.”