Are CT Scans Better Than X-Rays at Finding Lung Cancer?

Read Transcript

Unfortunately when lung cancer is developed in the lungs they tend to grow and not cause any symptoms. Only when they result in symptoms it's generally too late for the patient. What that means is 80% of patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer are diagnosed at advanced stage when symptoms appear that's why we generally look for a good screening test for lung cancer, a single x-ray of the lungs has not been shown to be beneficial for screening against lung cancer, and that's because an x-ray is just one picture from one angle of the lungs, in general a cancer has to be fairly large in size for it to be detected by an x-ray.

Alternatively a CAT scan is a 3D reconstruction of the entire lungs with very high definition. This technique can pick up cancers at their earlier form often when they're about a centimeter or less. Patients picked up in their earliest stage of lung cancer have greater than 80% chance of survival.