In 2011 The National Cancer Institute published results from their study of low dose CT lung cancer screening of individuals identified as at risk for lung cancer. The investigators enrolled those between 55 to 74 years of age who had at least 30 pack years of smoking under their belt (number of packs per day multiplied by number of years smoked). These people were then randomly assigned to either a chest x-ray group or a “low dose” CT scan group, with 3 images over 2 years. There was initial criticism that the authors used chest x-rays as the control rather than “usual care”. However given that the PLCO trial, comparing chest x-rays to usual care, subsequently showed no difference between the two, this would appear to have been a sound strategy.
The study also received some well deserved praise, as it was the largest study of its kind, and demonstrated some very impressive findings, as detailed in the article’s abstract. The most striking findings were:
- a 20% reduction in the risk of death from cancer relative to the control group.
- a 6.7% reduction in the risk of death from any cause relative to the control group.
I cannot sum up how to you how astounding these results were/are to the medical community, specifically to those who are involved as patients, or in the treatment, diagnosis, support, research, and fund raising of lung cancer. Continue reading “Lung Cancer Screening: Almost There . . .”