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Screening for Lung Cancer Might Benefit Those at Highest Risk
Date:5/21/2012

National Lung Screening Trial, included more than 53,000 people and found that screening reduced deaths from lung cancer by 20 percent, the researchers said.

The results of that trial were published last June in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, the other, smaller trials found no benefit from screening, Bach's team noted.

The study authors found that, overall, 20 percent of patients had a scan that needed follow-up, but only 1 percent had lung cancer.

The studies were done in teaching hospitals with experienced radiologists and cancer doctors, Bach noted.

This report is the basis of the screening recommendations adopted by the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The recommendations state that heavy smokers aged 55 to 74, and those who have quit in the past 15 years, should be offered screening.

But screening should only be done at hospitals that do a lot of this kind of screening. These are usually large or teaching hospitals, because the value of this screening at community hospitals is not known, Bach added.

Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer at the American Lung Association, called the new study a "thoughtful analysis of an important topic."

The American Lung Association conducted a similar review and came to similar conclusions, he said.

The data suggest that screening heavy smokers is likely to reduce death from lung cancer by about 20 percent and all-cause mortality by about 10 percent, he said.

"Given the large cohort to which it pertains, this would be a significant public health achievement," Edelman stated.

However, there remain many unsettled issues, he said.

"One major issue is whether the same results would be observed in the community as opposed to the controlled academic settings in which the study was done," Edelman said. "Accordingly, the American Lung Association report emphasizes the need f
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