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Low-dose CT Scans Offer Earlier Detection of Lung Cancer

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Posted November 28, 2012

The best way to catch lung cancer early is through early detection, says Dr. David Carbone, director of the new thoracic oncology center at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC ­­– James).

Lung cancer is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, killing more people than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. This year alone, more than 226,000 men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 160,000 will die from the disease.

Other major cancer killers – for example breast and colon – each have accepted screening strategies – mammograms and colonoscopies – for early detection.

“Until recently, there was really no early detection test for lung cancer proven to reduce deaths from this disease,” Carbone says.  “Unfortunately, without screening, most cases of lung cancer are diagnosed when they have already spread to other parts of the body and are incurable.”

Th U.S. National Lung Screening Trial – a major study of heavy smokers – compared computed tomography (CT) scans and chest X-rays and showed that having a lung CT scan significantly lowered the risk of dying of lung cancer.

Based on these findings, OSUCCC – James now provides lung cancer screenings to those at high risk of developing lung cancer. The screenings, which involve one low-dose CT scan each year for a three-year period, are available from 4-6 p.m. every other Monday on the second floor of the Martha Morehouse Medical Pavilion, 2050 Kenny Road. The next two screening dates are Dec. 3 and Dec. 17. Each scan will cost $99.

To qualify for the screenings, participants must be 55-74 years old, be a current smoker with a history of smoking two packs per day for 15 years or one pack per day for 30 years, or be an ex-smoker who has quit within the past 15 years.

“Even better than early detection of lung cancer is preventing it in the first place, so smoking cessation is clearly important and is an integral part of our screening program,” Carbone says. “However, CT screening is not perfect as there are many people who develop lung cancer who never smoked, and these cancers would not be detected by these screening CT scans. Further work needs to be done to prevent lung cancer in these people and to detect it early.”

The National Lung Screening Trial showed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality, says Dr. Patrick Nana-Sinkam, pulmonologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and part of the multi-disciplinary lung cancer team at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

“Our lung cancer screening program provides results to the patient within a few minutes,” says Nana-Sinkam. “The main goal is to look for asymptomatic spots on the lung. About 80 percent of lung cancers are smoking-related, which is why this group is targeted to have these early screenings, before the lung cancer is advanced.”

Source: OSU Wexner Medical Center

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