Have you ever wondered why we can't just test for lung cancer with a chest x-ray? The answer has always been because it isn't practical, until today.
Now, there is new evidence that computerized chest scans can find the tiniest spots in the lung that are becoming lung cancer. That's after testing 35,000 people. The report in the New England Journal of Medicine says high-tech x-rays, called spiral CT scans, can detect lung cancer at its earliest stage and that 80% of those diagnosed in the study, survived after surgery while the normal survival rate is only 15%.
"This is good news to people that either are at risk for lung cancer or might be getting lung cancer," said Dr. Bruce Johnson, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
So, who should get the screening? If you're 60 or over and have smoked, you should be screened for lung cancer. Medicare and private insurance don't yet pay for the screening because they say there is not enough proof yet that it can save lives.
Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health is conducting a large, long-term, randomized trial on the benefits of spiral CT scans. Results are expected in the next one to three years.
It's estimated that there are 45 million Americans who have given up smoking, but there are still 45 million in this country who continue to light up.