Monthly Archives: November 2010

CT Scans Decrease Lung Cancer Death Rates, But Look Before You Leap

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 →