Today’s announcement from the National Cancer Institute that the National Lung Screening Trial reduced deaths from lung cancer by 20% is exciting and important news. However, as always, there is more to the story that is yet to be told. And before we consider this a slam dunk in favor of screening, it is important that all of us understand what this trial has shown–and what it has not. [more]
The background of the trial is that starting in 2002 the National Cancer Institute along with other collaborating organizations–including the American Cancer Society–recruited 53,000 current and former heavy smokers to a trial designed to show whether or not low dose helical chest CT scans reduced deaths from lung cancer compared to single view chest x-rays.
It is important to understand who participated in this trial: Current and former smokers had to have at least a 30 pack year history of smoking cigarettes. A pack year means smoking one pack a day for one year, so 30 pack years could be 3 packs a day for 10 years or one pack a day for 30 years. Former smokers who met those criteria had to have stopped smoking within 15 … Continue reading →