Ethicists sound off about lung cancer CT screening

March 1, 2007

Last year, the lung CT screening debate got jolted by claims from the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program that 80% of people with lung cancer that is treated early can live another decade, at least.

Last year, the lung CT screening debate got jolted by claims from the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program that 80% of people with lung cancer that is treated early can live another decade, at least.

But radiologists must use the technology wisely, according to a comment in the January issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, because radiation exposure of even as little as 2.5 to 9 mGy has been associated with an increase in cancer.

Dr. Howard Forman of Yale University and Dr. Christoph I. Lee of Stanford University wrote that radiation-induced lung cancer is most problematic for patients in their mid-50s, and smokers may be particularly vulnerable. Repeated CT procedures would significantly increase cancer risk and possibly result in thousands of radiation-induced lung cancers.

Radiologists have an obligation to inform patients of the risks, including workup of potentially benign lesions, they wrote.