Screening for Lung Cancer

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology October 11, 2012

 Dr. Hart examines CT scans of a lung Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. It has a five-year survival rate of only 15 percent. Research from the National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST), found that low-dose computed tomography (CT) is a promising test for the detection of pre-symptomatic lung cancer in individuals with the highest risk for lung cancer.

The trial found that using CT screening reduced deaths by 20 percent compared to the chest X-ray. The NLST findings have led to widespread use of CT scans for lung cancer screening.

Based on the NLST findings, the American Lung Association recommends lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans for people who meet a certain criteria, including:

  • 55 to 74 years of age
  • Cigarette smoking history of at least 30 pack-years
  • Former smokers must have quit within the past 15 years

Eric Hart, MD, director of thoracic imaging, was recently interviewed in an article in Diagnostic Imaging regarding lung cancer screening and the program here at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Screening for lung cancer is not an event; it's not a test. It's a process,” explained Dr. Hart. “That process has a lot of different stakeholders ranging from the potential person to be screened, their loved ones, their primary care providers, to radiologists, thoracic surgeons, oncologists, and pulmonologists."

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Learn more about lung cancer.

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