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CT Screening Can Prevent Cancer Deaths


Smoking and heart healthHeavy smokers may now have greater hope in combating lung cancer even after years of  lung-damaging tobacco use thanks to a new screening test.

Earlier this year the National Lung Cancer Institute (NCI) announced that scientists found a 20 percent reduction in deaths from lung cancer for smokers who underwent a computed tomography (CT) screening as opposed to a regular chest X-ray. Identifying lung cancer via CT scan at an early stage when tumors might be missed on standard X-rays is essential to increasing survival odds of a patient.

The NCI study was conducted over the course of ten years and involved more than 53,000 current or former heavy smokers, age 55 to 74. In order to participate, these individuals had to have reached a given smoking threshold which was the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes each day for 30 years with no existing symptoms of lung cancer.

The clinical trial, known as the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) was aimed at randomly selecting participants who received either three CT screenings or a chest x-ray. The results from the clinical trial exposed the intense benefits of a CT screening over the more traditional capabilities of a chest X-ray.

In fact, CT scans were 3.5 times more likely to reveal abnormalities and potential tumors than just an X-ray. While a vast majority of abnormalities detected by both CT scans and X-rays turned out to be non-cancerous, the use of CT screening proved to be more effective at detecting potential threats and leading to additional tests.

“Up until NLST, we have not had strong evidence that CT screening would be beneficial in smokers,” said Dr. Steven S. Shayani, Medical Director of Long Island Heart Associates and Mount Sinai Outpatient Services for Long Island.

The study’s findings suggest that ultrafast CT scans, which have been useful in screening and diagnosing of coronary artery disease, could also be used to screen for lung cancer. If you are a smoker or would like to learn more about the early detection of lung cancer through the use of CT scans, schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists today.

Long Island Heart doctors are available for consultation and screening images at our centers through out Long Island and Queens.

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