Screening with low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) was seen to dramatically reduce the lung cancer death rates in current or former heavy smokers, a study has shown.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine saw a 20 per cent reduction in lung cancer deaths in those who had undergone screening using the CT scan as opposed to a chest X-ray.
The large scale, decade-long clinical trial, called the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), involved data from more than 53,000 people.
Dr Denise R Aberle, national principal investigator for 23 of the 33 NLST sites, said that the results offer further definitive evidence of the significant mortality benefit from CT screening.
Participants in the study were either current or former cigarette smokers with a history of at least 30 pack-years smoking and had no symptoms or history of lung cancer.
Pack-years were calculated by multiplying the number of packs a person has smoked per day by the number of years spent smoking.
According to authors, this is the first trial with the sufficient numbers needed to enable the comparison between spiral CT and chest X-ray. Other studies have failed due to the minimal numbers of participants enrolled.
Aberle said that while the results were "encouraging", CT screening cannot be viewed as an alternative to smoking cessation.
"The data can be used to determine whether other groups at risk of lung cancer, such as light smokers, those with family histories of lung cancer or individuals with lung diseases like emphysema, would benefit from screening with spiral CT scanning," she predicted.
In other news, research published in journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that microRNA molecules in the blood of people with lung cancer could detect the disease and rate its level of aggression.
Written by Angela Newbury
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