Low-dose CT scans proven useful for screening lung cancer

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According to a new report, low-dose helical CT imaging is powerful enough to be an effective tool in early lung cancer diagnosis, as well as to help reduce false positives, Reuters Health reports.

"A prominent part of the debate about the use of CT scanning for lung cancer has been concern about false-positive tests," said Steven B. Markowitz, MD, speaking with Reuters Health. Markowitz is the lead researcher of the report published in the April issue of the journal Chest.

"We now provide real data on this point and show that participants can be reassured that very few of the indeterminate nodules are, in fact, cancer."

Over a period of four years, Markowitz and his colleagues at the City University of New York, Flushing evaluated 4,400 individuals 45 years of age or older who underwent an initial full chest low-dose helical CT scan. If the researchers noted indeterminate lung nodules the subjects underwent further scans three, six, and 12 months afterward. Following this, a full chest low-dose CT incidence scan was performed at 18 months.

Over 95 percent were followed for the full 18 months, though in the end only three indeterminate nodules were found to be malignant during follow-up. Overall, the researchers detected 33 primary stage one lung cancers

The scans had a sensitivity of 84.2 percent and specificity of 96.6 percent in designating suspicious nodules.

"Chest radiologists are excellent at identifying likely cancers on the low-dose helical CT scan," Markowitz told Reuters. "In addition, they identify nodules that are unlikely to be cancer, but still need to be watched."

"Simple CT follow-up at six months will identify the few indeterminate nodules that really are cancerous,” he added

Access the full study at: http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/abstract/131/4/1028