Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Washington Post: CT Scans For Smokers?

Article in the Washington Post -- For Smokers, a Tough Call: Despite New Study, Experts Are Split on Whether the Benefits Of Early CT Screening for Lung Cancer Outweigh the Potential Risks, by Sandra Boodman:

To screen or not to screen?

That is the question patients -- most of them current or former smokers -- are asking doctors following the publication of a large international study that found that spiral CT scans can detect lung cancer at its earliest and most curable stage.

The results, published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, have fueled hope that the technology can lead to early treatment of the most common cause of cancer death, as mammography has done for breast cancer.

But the study involving more than 31,000 current and former smokers headed by researchers at Weill Medical College at Cornell University failed to answer a fundamental question: Does screening extend lives or merely find cancer earlier? Because the study did not use a control group, there is no way to tell whether the risks of screening, which include repeated radiation exposure and the possibility of aggressive follow-up treatment, outweigh the benefits of early detection, experts from the American Cancer Society and other groups say.



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