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Lung Cancer Alliance Commends NCCN on Screening Guidelines

WASHINGTON, March 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) called the new screening guidelines announced by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) "a positive step in the right direction that will encourage those at high risk for lung cancer to fully investigate their option of getting a CT scan."

LCA President Laurie Fenton Ambrose said that lung cancer will continue to kill more people each year than all the other major cancers combined until more at risk people realize the urgency of being diagnosed early.

Currently only 16% of lung cancer patients are being diagnosed at an early and curable stage.

To date only CT scanners can detect lung cancers early - a fact that no one disputes - but the statistical debate goes on.

Fenton Ambrose pointed out that similar statistical debates held up mammograms for years until Congress stepped in. Debates still rage over mammograms for women under the age of 50 and PSA testing for prostate cancer in men.

The debate carried into the NCCN meeting earlier this month and the panel reviewing lung cancer was unable to reach a consensus on routine CT scans. However, NCCN issued a compromise statement recommending that people at high risk for lung cancer should participate in a clinical trial on CT screening or go to a center with expertise in all areas of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment to discuss the potential risks and benefits of a screening CT.

"This is exactly what we have been saying for the past two years," said Fenton-Ambrose, "and we are pleased that NCCN takes this position as well."

The only national CT trial still accepting participants is the International Lung Cancer Early Action Program (I-ELCAP).

That program, which was launched in 1992, has scanned over 30,000 people at high risk for lung cancer in 26 states and 8 foreign countries. The results of its first 13 years were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 and showed that CT scanning could detect lung cancer at its earliest stages, and those treated promptly had 10-year survival rates of 92%.

Currently, without screening, the national 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is 15%.

In 2002, the National Cancer Institute began a trial comparing CT scans to chest x-rays and stopped recruitment two years later. Those patients will be followed until 2009 but results are not expected to be published until 2012.

"Another 850,000 people will die of lung cancer by that time. We cannot continue to ignore the rapid advances in imaging that can offer those at high risk the chance of an early diagnosis when the disease is still curable," she said.

Lung Cancer Alliance ( is the only national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to patient support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer. Lung Cancer Alliance is committed to leading the movement to reverse decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for the disease, elevating awareness and changing health policy.

Media Contact:

Kay Cofrancesco


SOURCE Lung Cancer Alliance
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