Study Supports CT Screening for Lung Cancer

May 21, 2012
Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN

Low-dose CT screening for patients at high risk of lung cancer can find smaller nodules than X-ray, but concern remains about potential harm from the test.

Low-dose CT screening for patients who are at increased risk of developing lung cancer can identify smaller nodules than can chest X-rays. But concern remains regarding potential harm from the screening, according to a study published online in JAMA.

Peter B. Bach, MD, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues assessed the results of several randomized controlled trials and cohort studies, finding that the National Lung Screening trial was the most informative, with 53,545 participants. The findings showed that the screening resulted in a 20 percent lower relative risk of death.

“In terms of potential harms of [low-dose CT] screening, across all trials and cohorts, approximately 20 percent of individuals in each round of screening had positive results requiring some degree of follow-up, while approximately 1 percent had lung cancer,” the study authors wrote.

“There was marked heterogeneity in this finding and in the frequency of follow-up investigations, biopsies, and percentage of surgical procedures performed in patients with benign lesions.”

The study authors concluded, however, that there is still uncertainty about the potential harms of screening and generalizability of the results.

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