Screening for lung cancer: For patients at ncreased risk for lung cancer, it works

James R. Jett, David E. Midthun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Screening for lung cancer is not currently recommended, even in persons at high risk for this condition. Most patients with lung cancer present with symptomatic disease that is usually at an incurable, advanced stage. The recently reported NLST (National Lung Screening Trial) showed a 20% decrease in deaths from lung cancer in high-risk persons undergoing screening with low-dose computed tomography of the chest compared with chest radiography. The high-risk group included in the trial comprised asymptomatic persons aged 55 to 74 years, with smoking history of at least 30 pack-years. Screening with low-dose computed tomography detected more cases of early-stage lung cancer and fewer cases of advanced-stage cancer, confirming that screening has shifted the stage of cancer at diagnosis and provides more persons with the opportunity for curative treatment. Although computed tomography screening has risks and limitations, the 20% decrease in deaths is the single most dramatic decrease ever reported for deaths from lung cancer, with the possible exception of smoking cessation. Physicians should offer computed tomography screening for lung cancer to patients who fit the high-risk profile defined in the NLST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-542
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Volume155
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 18 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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