Advertisement

How important is screening for lung cancer?

Lung cancer screening saves lives. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 221,000 new lung cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2015 in the U.S., and more than 158,000 people will die from the disease—more than from any other cancer. Studies have shown that lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can reduce lung cancer mortality in high-risk patients by 20 percent.

A screening program should use a standardized reporting system and have input from board-certified cardiothoracic surgeons as part of a multidisciplinary team evaluating computed tomography (CT) scan findings. Minimizing the number of operations for benign disease and maintaining a low morbidity and mortality for surgical resection will help realize the full benefit of lung cancer screening in its widespread adoption in clinical practice.

When some critics had concerns about false-positive results leading to unnecessary treatment, researchers from Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Mass., reviewed the surgical outcomes of 1,654 patients who underwent LDCT lung cancer screening.

The screenings were performed from January 2012 to June 2014 at the research team’s clinic. Surgical intervention for a non-lung cancer diagnosis was rare—5 out of 1,654 patients, or 0.30 percent. That incidence is comparable to the 0.62 percent rate found in the National Lung Screening Trial that helped secure screening coverage in the U.S. Only four of the 1,654 patients (0.24 percent) had surgical intervention for benign disease.

Of the 1,654 patients screened, 25 (1.5 percent) underwent surgery. Twenty patients were diagnosed with lung cancer; 18 (90 percent) had early stage disease with a high probability of being cured.

Private insurers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cover LDCT lung cancer screening for select patients.

Continue Learning about Lung Cancer Diagnosis & Screening

can my dog detect lung cancer ?
The Society of Thoracic SurgeonsThe Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Lung cancer researchers have long considered the possibility of screening for lung cancer based upon...
More Answers
what are the benefits of exhaled breath for lung cancer diagnoses ?
The Society of Thoracic SurgeonsThe Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Instead of sending people for invasive biopsy procedures when a suspicious lung mass is identified, ...
More Answers
how can i better understand my lung cancer diagnosis ?
The Society of Thoracic SurgeonsThe Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Lung tumors can be very confusing, not only because of the unfamiliar terminology, but also because ...
More Answers
are ct scans better than x-rays at finding lung cancer ?
are ct scans better than x-rays at finding lung cancer ?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.