Reduced lung cancer deaths linked to earlier diagnosis

Early detection and increased use of lung cancer screening are saving lives, according to a study published Friday.
Patients using CT scans to track possible cancers are helping doctors identify precancerous and early tumor tissue for surgical removal, leading to lower lung cancer deaths, Mount Sinai Health System researchers report in an article published in the JAMA Network Open.
The nonprofit health care team has embarked on one of the largest population-based studies on the link between lung cancer screening and survival rates, said Dr. Raja Flores, lead author of the study and head of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Health System. in New York City. The results are in line with those of the National Cancer Institute. National lung study since 2011, he said.

“We have to understand that we have a cure for lung cancer: it’s called surgery,” Flores said. “The problem is, we just don’t find it early enough.”

While some drugs have been shown to prolong survival, the only way to cure lung cancer is to “catch it early and get rid of it,” Flores said.

Mount Sinai researchers determined that lung cancer deaths decreased by an average of 4% per year from 2006 to 2016, analyzing data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and Outcomes Program on 312,382 patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Over these 10 years, the number of early-stage diagnoses increased significantly from 26.5% to 31.2%, while late-stage diagnoses fell from 70.8% to 66.1%. Patients diagnosed with early stage lung cancer had a median life expectancy of nearly five years, while the median late stage cancer was seven months.

In 2013, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended that people at risk of lung cancer have computed tomography scanned annually. These tests usually detect cancer in 24.2% of cases, while a chest x-ray only detects cancer in 6.9% of cases.

Despite this, only about 5% of patients who meet the criteria are tested, Dr. Emanuela Tayoli, study author and deputy director of population at the Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Institute, said in a press release.

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death nationwide, with more than 200,000 people diagnosed each year.

Mount Sinai’s findings highlight the need to screen people at risk and the need for health systems to consider broader acceptance standards, Dr Claudia Henschke, professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said in a press release. …

“If all eligible people underwent a low-dose computed tomography scan, the dose of which is comparable to annual mammography, we could save up to 80% of these people,” Henschke said. “Our lung cancer screening program is open to all people at risk of lung cancer, age 40 and older, whether they have ever smoked, are current smokers, or are former smokers.”

Doctors need to help patients understand that when screened early, their chances of recovery are four in five, Flores said.

Previous research has also examined the historical links between non-small cell lung cancer mortality and programs to help people quit smoking, as well as earlier interventions and targeted therapies.

According to him, Wolfgang Lehner of Brooklyn, New York, went through several examinations and his early diagnosis was a stroke of luck that allowed him to survive with lung cancer.

Lehner, 62, started smoking at 15 in his native Austria and quit smoking 35 years later in 2010.

Because of his symptoms, age, and smoking history, doctors at Mount Sinai recommended that Lehner see a lung specialist and get a biopsy. According to him, when the results showed a slowly growing adenocarcinoma, Lehner felt happy because he contracted cancer at an early stage. Less than a month later, he had the growth removed.

“Sometimes people don’t want to know if they are sick or not because it can get very costly because of the health insurance situation,” Lehner said. “People need to overcome their fears and get tested.”

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