Actuarial study anticipates, supports recent findings on lung cancer screening

Some of you may remember this interview from last May, which explained the results of a 2009 study for the Lung Cancer Alliance that used actuarial methods to clarify the opportunity posed by lung cancer screening.

The case for increased lung cancer screening gained more momentum last week when the Los Angeles Times reported on the results of an analysis by the National Cancer Institute. Here is an excerpt from the Times article:

Advanced CT imaging can reduce deaths from lung cancer by 20% among heavy smokers by detecting tumors at an earlier stage when they are more treatable, according to results released Thursday from the first study to compare the value of CT scans and regular chest X-rays for lung cancer screening.

The long-awaited results of the trial involving more than 53,000 former and current heavy smokers were so conclusive that the study was terminated ahead of schedule last week and letters were sent to all the participants advising them of the results.

The findings are considered a major step forward in fighting the most deadly form of cancer — which is expected to kill an estimated 157,000 Americans this year — because chest X-rays have never been proven to be an effective tool for identifying tumors. CT scans are more powerful and provide a much clearer picture of the lungs.