Beginning this fall, study participants will see whether periodic CT (computed tomography) scans can detect lung cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages in current and former smokers, who are most at risk.

“This type of screening has never been done before on a statewide basis,” said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. “Given the rural nature of Nebraska, the Internet becomes an essential tool for this study. We will use Web-based systems to help train physicians across the state in order to provide the same cutting-edge technology for lung cancer screenings for all Nebraskans. If our effort succeeds, we could help shape lung cancer screening programs in other states and give new hope to people at risk for lung cancer.

“Using an extensive questionnaire given to each study participant, we will be studying other factors such as family history and other environmental exposures that can influence the risk of getting lung cancer.”

Nationally, nearly 60 percent of those with lung cancer die within one year of diagnosis and nearly 75 percent die within two years of diagnosis. About 87 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer are current or former smokers. Last year, more than 170,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in the U.S., and nearly 160,000 people died from the disease. In Nebraska, 895 people died of lung cancer, while more than 1,000 were diagnosed with the disease.

It’s unclear whether annual or periodic CT scans will reliably detect and improve outcomes, Dr. Cowan said. But, Claudia Henschke, M.D., Ph.D., and David Yankelevitz, M.D., researchers at Cornell University in New York recently reported early findings of an ongoing international study involving CT scans of more than 30,000 current or former smokers. At this point, they said, 80 percent of the lung cancers they’ve detected have been in the earliest stage.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Nebraska