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Study: Lung Cancer Screening in Heavy Smokers Saves Lives
Lung cancer is still underestimated, according to health experts. Since it is known that a large part of the illnesses are related to tobacco use, it is repeatedly pointed out how important it is to quit smoking. Heavy smokers should be examined - this can save lives.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death
Around one in four people in the European Union dies of cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Europe. It has only recently been reported that the lung cancer death rate among women has risen again in Germany. Experts believe that around 85 percent of illnesses are related to tobacco use. Smokers should therefore be examined regularly.
Screening program for heavy smokers saves lives
As the APA news agency reports, experts agreed at a meeting of the Central European Initiative against Lung Cancer in Prague that a lung cancer screening program among heavy smokers would save lives.
A US study with CT tests showed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality.
"We should screen for the presence of lung cancer," said the Hungarian expert Anna Kerpel-Fronius (Budapest), according to the news agency.
“We see patients every day who come to us with symptoms such as coughing, bloody sputum etc. These are patients with advanced inoperable disease and metastases. What we want to see in the future are patients with a small single tumor in the lungs that can be easily removed. The patients are healed. "
One pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years
A few years ago, a study with 53,000 subjects was published in the specialist magazine "New England Journal of Medicine", which showed that screenings can detect lung cancer earlier and thus save many lives.
For the investigation, people were sought who had at least “30 pack years”, ie thirty pack years. This means that those affected have smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or three packets a day for ten years.
Half of the study participants aged 55 to 74 were examined once a year for changes in the lungs in a spiral computer tomograph with low-dose radiation.
The other half of the participants had their chest x-rayed once a year, the usual method for examining the lungs for changes.
Mortality reduced by 20 percent
Subjects were followed for two to five years after three of these rounds of screening. It was found that 20 percent fewer people died in the CT group than in the X-ray group.
The images from the CT were more accurate and the diagnosis rate was higher.
John K. Field of the University of Liverpool Cancer Research Center, who led the study in the United States, said that every year that people hesitate to use lung cancer screening in high-risk patients can cost tens of thousands of lives.
Not all experts are convinced of the screenings
However, not all experts are convinced of the screenings. For example, the study from the USA was not meaningful enough because the subjects had not been observed long enough.
In addition, it has been reported in the past in the United States that lung abnormalities that were found during CT examinations did not turn out to be a preliminary stage of cancer in the following years in almost a quarter of the cases.
The situation was similar in the aforementioned study. Libor Havel from Thomayer Hospital in Prague explained according to the APA: “In the US study, 25 percent of the test persons found suspicious round spots in the lungs. However, 96 percent of these were not carcinomas, ”said the doctor.
Nevertheless, follow-up examinations, for example with biopsies, had to be carried out. "However, the US study also saved the lives of 88 patients who would otherwise have died."
However, he also referred to the complex situation for such a procedure for the detection of lung cancer in asymptomatic persons: “A screening program only makes sense between the earliest possible detection of a disease and the time until symptoms appear. At the same time, the time must be chosen so that the findings play a role in any therapy. ”(Ad)