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New proven screening for lung cancer

Yearly CT scans of middle-aged and older smoker___and former smoker____can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by 20% according to an 8 year, landmark study funded by the federal government. Health experts are saying that this study’s results represent a historic leap forward in cancer detection that could save thousands of lives, although at considerable cost. Dr. Christine Berg of the National Cancer Institute, the lead author of the study, says “we have finally demonstrated that most lung cancers can be detected early.” Previously, most doctors only ordered the CT’s or x-rays for smokers who complained of symptoms. Now, the health experts are saying that this study is likely to lead to a push for widespread screening using CT scans on millions of older smokers. For 30 years, researchers and cancer docs have watched in frustration as study after study designed to screen for lung cancer failed. Even when x-rays COULD find tumors in lungs, they didn’t save lives because it was too late. I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on the radio, but it is my understanding that by the time a “spot” shows up on a routine x-ray, the cancer has usually been there for 4 or 5 years and is usually a stage 3 or 4 cancer. Participants in this study received either a CT scan or a chest x-ray for three years and were followed for 5. The results were so compelling that researchers stopped the trial early in November and released some information about the study. The really good news and complete statistics and results were not released until several weeks ago. Based on the results of this trial, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, for example, will start advertising a new clinic offering lung cancer screening aimed specifically for those ages 55 to 74 who are smokers or have smoked within the past 15 years. For $200, people will received an hour of education about the scans and information about smoking cessation and a low-dose CT scan interpreted by a radiologist who will interpret the results and consult with a specialist. Dr. Mark Gladwin, chief of the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at Pittsburgh says “the results of this study are very important, suggesting than many Americans who smoke should not only quit smoking, but also undergo lung cancer screening with CT scans, both of which will reduce lung cancer mortality rates.

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