Published: July 1, 2011
Updated: July 1, 2011
For the first time, people at high risk for lung cancer will have access to screening that uses computed tomography (CT) scans.
Preliminary results from the National Lung Screening Trial, released in November 2010, showed that among people at high risk for lung cancer, those who were screened with low-dose spiral CT scans showed a 20 percent reduction in lung-cancer-related mortality compared to those who were screened with standard chest x-rays.
The trial, which Duke did not participate in, included 53,000 participants ages 55 to 74 who were current and former heavy smokers.
“Once those results are published, it will be the first U.S. trial to show in a randomized fashion a benefit from screening people at high risk for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans,” says thoracic surgeon Thomas D’Amico, MD. “Before, CT screening was not thought to be effective. This is an important advance.”
Published results will likely result in third-party payers such as insurance companies and Medicare covering CT scan-based screening for patients at high risk. Right now, such screening is not covered.
Duke is currently developing a lung cancer screening program using CT scans for patients at high risk, to be launched later in 2011.