The findings from a recent study show the risk of dying from lung cancer could be reduced by 20 percent by use of a low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) scan.Â With 160,000 deaths each year related to cigarette smoking, this type of screening could save up to 32,000 lives each year.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched the multicenter National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in 2002,Â led at Emory by radiologist and researcher Dr. Kay Vydareny.Â This trial compared two ways of detecting lung cancer: low-dose helical (spiral) computed tomography (CT) and standard chest X-ray, for their effects on lung cancer death rates in a high-risk population.
Both chest X-rays and helical CT scans have been used as a means to find lung cancer early, but the effects of these screening techniques on lung cancer mortality rates had not been determined. Over a 20-month period, more than 53,000 current or former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74 joined NLST at 33 study sites across the United States. In November 2010, the initial findings from NLST were released. Participants who received low-dose helical CT scans had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from lung cancer than participants who received standard chest X-rays.