Approach to lung cancer early detection changing with new studies and new tools
Lung cancer is often difficult to detect before symptoms of the disease show themselves. By that time, tumors are typically fairly large and the cancer has likely spread to other organs, which makes treatment more difficult and less likely to succeed.
However, two recent studies have at least begun to provide hope for improving the current situation. One, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, focuses on chest x-rays and their effect on the lung cancer mortality rate, and the second compares the effectiveness of chest x-rays with low-dose CT scans. These studies have caused physicians to take a new look at early lung cancer detection.
At first glance, the results of the study examining the chest x-ray as an early detection tool appear disappointing. They indicate that chest x-rays have no more effect on the lung cancer mortality rate than ordinary medical care does. However, a National Lung Cancer Screening Trials (NLST) study comparing chest x-rays with low-dose CT scans is more encouraging.
Although chest x-rays do not affect the lung cancer mortality rate, low-dose CT scans do. The NLST study found that CT scans used for early detection lower the lung cancer mortality rate by 20 percent.
A 20 percent improvement is, of course, significant, but there is more to the story. The early detection power of CT scans can also be positively impacted by the use of another tool that has recently entered the scene: EarlyCDT®-Lung, a simple blood test.
This is not to say there is just one way to approach early detection of lung cancer. In fact, it appears that EarlyCDT-Lung used in conjunction with CT is growing in popularity among health-care professionals.
Many physicians are now recommending EarlyCDT-Lung for their patients who are at high risk for lung cancer (smokers and ex-smokers, for example). The blood test is designed to aid doctors monitoring high-risk patients for signs of lung cancer, which includes patients with indeterminate pulmonary nodules.
Allan Goldstein, MD, of Pulmonary Associates of the Southeast P.C., Birmingham, Ala., uses the test to follow his patients who have indeterminate lung nodules. The Birmingham Medical News quotes Dr. Goldstein as saying, “This test (EarlyCDT-Lung) gives us another weapon in our arsenal to treat lung cancer patients. Because false positives can cause unnecessary invasive treatment, we can be more certain that a lesion is cancer when the EarlyCDT-Lung test results indicate it. We want to get the most information we can to avoid invasive treatment and the earlier we determine the diagnosis, the better chance for successful treatment.”
The Birmingham Medical News story goes on to say that “long-term and ex-smokers between the ages of 40 and 75 along with individuals with other risk factors, such as environmental exposures and extensive exposure to secondary smoke are candidates for (EarlyCDT-Lung).”
The appearance of new, non-invasive and relatively inexpensive tests that contribute the early detection of lung cancer bodes will for the ongoing struggle against the disease. The research and development that has recently been done has been a long time coming for a disease that kills about 160,000 Americans each year.
For more information on the clinical validation, as well as other peer review articles highlighting EarlyCDT-Lung, click here to access papers and publications. You may also view the video of Professor John Robertson, pioneer of the technological platform, discuss the data.
To learn more about becoming a provider of EarlyCDT-Lung, click here.