Conventional wisdom suggests that finding tumors earlier, when they are smaller and less likely to have spread outside the lung, increases cancer survival rates. Many health professionals therefore hypothesize that spiral CT scans are superior to chest x-rays, because spiral CT can pick up tumors well under 1 centimeter in size, while chest X-rays can detect only larger tumors, about 1 to 2 centimeters in size. However, no scientific evidence to date has shown that early detection of lung cancer, or screening by either method, actually saves lives. Moreover, screening may detect abnormalities that lead to unnecessary diagnostic tests and procedures to remove noncancerous lesions.
The trial is a randomized, controlled study--the gold standard of research studies. Study participants will be randomly assigned to receive either a chest X-ray or a spiral CT once a year for three years, and their health will be monitored annually until 2009. Researchers believe that because of the study's size and the fact that participants will be randomized, NLST will be able to provide the evidence needed to determine which test is better at reducing deaths from lung cancer.
Spiral CT uses x-rays to scan the entire chest in about 15 to 25 seconds, during a single breath hold. Throughout the procedure, the participant lies still on a table. The table and patient pass through the CT scanner, which is shaped like a donut with a large hole. The scanner rotates around the participant and a computer creates imag
Contact: Beth Porter
Georgetown University Medical Center