Posted: August 8, 2012

Historically, the classical teaching to physicians in training was that deaths from lung cancer could not be prevented by screening chest x-rays.  As opposed to breast and colon cancers, where mammography and colonoscopy can reduce mortality, lung cancer prognosis could not be improved by screening because by the time a cancer was big enough to see on a chest x-ray it was probably incurable.

All that changed in 2006 with publication of the Early Lung Cancer Action Program (ELCAP) trial.  Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York claimed an 80% reduction in cancer mortality in patients who underwent CT scans of the chest before symptoms of lung cancer developed.  The survival of patients whose cancer was discovered at Stage I was 88%, much higher than previously seen.  Many patients in this trial had abnormal CT scans resulting in lung surgery that turned up no cancer.  Nonetheless, there was immediate excitement about these results and the medical community began to be swayed about the value of lung cancer screening.

+ Read the entire story, and Dr. Stark’s statements regarding this case on the BS757 Health Blog.