Results from the 2010 trial indicated that deaths from lung cancer in specific high-risk groups could be reduced by annual CT screening. "These findings indicate that the adoption of lung cancer screening could save many lives," the cancer society concluded.
As with any guidelines, however, recommendations may change over time as more people are screened and new data are analyzed.
Despite the lifesaving benefits of screening, there are still some harms and limitations. Among these are missed cancers, anxiety caused by abnormal results, the need for additional tests and biopsies, investigation of other findings not related to lung cancer and exposure to radiation from repeated testing, the cancer society noted.
The cancer society hopes these guidelines will help inform people at high risk for lung cancer about finding lung cancer early, when it has the best chance of being treated.
Many questions remain, Edelman noted.
"The most prominent is which groups who have lower risks of lung cancer than the group studied will benefit from screening. That is, at what point, in terms of risk factors, will the risks of radiation and biopsy of benign tumors outweigh the risk of cancer," he said.
There are not only important medical questions, but also economic ones since issues of increased costs and insurance coverage are yet to be addressed, Edelman said.
Another expert, Dr. Michael Unger, a doctor with Allied Healthcare Associates in Northbrook, Ill., said that "it has been proven repeatedly that mere chest X-ray screening is insufficient to provide any benefit to survival."
That said, there have been several studies showing a survival benefit by screening high-risk individuals with low dose CT scans, he added.
"Whether or not such screening recommendations are accepted by Medicare and private insurance companies will eventually determine how broadly these recom
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