Are you a smoker? Were you a smoker in the past? If so, then pay attention to these findings!
Yearly CT scans of current and former smokers reduces the risk of death from lung cancer by 20%, according to a new study from the National Cancer Institute.
The study enrolled 53,000 middle-aged and elderly current and past smokers who were screened annually for three years by either CT scan or chest X-rays.
"This finding has important implications for public health with the potential to save many lives among those at greatest risk for lung cancer," said NCI Director Harold Varmus. "This finding will be an important factor in subsequent efforts to protect the tens of millions of former and current smokers in this country against the lethality of lung cancer."
"With this positive trial result we have the opportunity to realize the greatest single reduction of cancer mortality in the history of the war on cancer," James L. Mulshine, a health research official at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a statement issued by the Lung Cancer Alliance.
So, what could be the reason that a CT scan is better at detecting lung cancer than a comventional X-ray? A CT scan creates a 3-D image of the lungs, instead of the 2-D image captured by a chest X-ray, making a scan more likely to spot a tumor while it is still small and relatively susceptible to removal by surgery, thus increasing the chances of survival.
Lung cancer affects more than 196,000 Americans a year and kills more than 159,000 – more than breast, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. Additionally, it's estimated that 46 million Americans currently smoke and tens of millions more once smoked.
This research is revolutionary in the fight against lung cancer. It's estimated that the number of regular CT scans for current and past smokers will increase dramatically.