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Study Finds CT Scans for Lung Cancer Turn Up Few False-Positives

A study published last month in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the official journal of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, found that false-positive findings for CT-based screening for lung cancer were uncommon. 

The results of the study is good news because even though CT-based screening for lung cancer in long-term smokers has been recommended by experts, and the scans are covered by Medicare and some private insurers, some physicians have advised against the scans, fearing that the scans would result in too many false-positive findings and cause patients unnecessary surgeries and trauma. 

For the study, researchers at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Mass., tracked outcomes for almost 1,700 patients.  The patients underwent low-dose CT screening for lung cancer at the hospital between 2012 and mid-2014.  Results of the CT scans were assessed by a multidisciplinary group of experts, which included surgeons, who gave recommendations as to next steps.  Overall, 25 of the patients screened underwent a surgery because of the results of the CT scan.  Of those, 20 were diagnosed as having lung cancer and 18 of them had an early stage of the cancer, where there is still a high chance of a cure. 

Dr. Christina Williamson, co-leader of the study, said, “Lung cancer screening saves lives, and our study serves as a model for how to set up a screening program that is safe and effective for patients.” 

To learn more about the different types of screenings offered at Edward-Elmhurst Health, including low-dose CT lung screenings, please click here