Results of Initial Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening for Lung Cancer

SUMMARY: The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), a federally funded U.S. study, enrolled 53,439 asymptomatic participants, 55 to 74 years of age, with at least 30 pack-year smoking history, and were randomized to undergo annual screening with either low dose CT scan (n=26,715) or a chest X-Ray (n=26,724), for three years. The use of low dose CT scans for 3 years in this high risk, healthy patients, resulted in a 20% reduction in Lung Cancer mortality, compared to screening with a chest X-Ray. Based on these findings, Lung Cancer Screening is recommended for the following groups

1) People 55-74 years of age with no signs or symptoms of Lung Cancer

2) Current or former smoker with a 30 pack year smoking history (Number of years smoked multiplied by the number of packs of cigarettes per day)

3) Current smokers are strongly urged to enter a smoking cessation program

4) Former smokers must have quit smoking within the past 15 years

Lung Cancer screening is performed using a non-contrast, low dose CT scan. People with serious co-morbid conditions, those on home oxygen and individuals with metallic devices or implants in the chest or back (which can interfere with the scan) should be excluded from Lung Cancer screening. It should be noted that Lung cancer screening with low dose CT scan is presently not covered by most insurance plans. The National Lung Screening Trial Research Team. N Engl J Med 2013;368:1980-1991