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November 6, 2006

'Spiral CT Scan New Tool For Diagnosing Lung Cancer

Topics: lung cancer

lung-cancer-frontal-chest-x-ray.jpgThis week's New England Journal of Medicine reported that annual chest computed tomography (CT) scans on those at risk for lung cancer can detect it earlier, at a more treatable stage. In the study, more than 31,000 people in the United States and overseas underwent spiral CT scans of their chests at the beginning and again in seven to 18 months unless something was detected on the first scan.

The term "spiral CT" comes from the shape of the path taken by the x-ray beam during scanning. The examination table advances at a constant rate through the scanner gantry while the x-ray tube rotates continuously around the patient, tracing a spiral path through the patient. This spiral path gathers continuous data with no gaps between images.

With spiral CT, refinements in detector technology support faster, higher-quality image acquisition with less radiation exposure.

One and one-half percent of those screened in the reported study had lung cancer and 85 percent of those with cancer had stage 1 -- for which survival is best. After surgical removal of the cancer, 88 percent were expected to live at least 10 years; eight people who did not get treatment died within five years. The conclusion of the study's authors was annual spiral CT screening can detect lung cancer that is curable.

From the news reports, one might think that smokers and others at risk for lung cancer should go out and get an annual CT scan. There is a lot of controversy about it, however. It was demonstrated years ago that routine chest X-ray does not find lung cancer early enough to save lives. CT scans are more sensitive, so this study looked at whether it would help to use CT for early lung cancer detection. (Continue reading ...)

Posted by Richard at November 6, 2006 2:37 PM

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