April 2, 2007—According to the most recent findings of the New York Early Lung Cancer Action Project (NY-ELCAP), published in this month’s issue of Radiology, annual CT screening identifies a high proportion of patients with early-stage lung cancer. Of the 124 patients the project diagnosed via CT screening, 85% had no evidence of metastases when recommended for biopsy.

NY-ELCAP principal investigator Claudia Henschke, PhD, professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, noted that the recent widely-publicized JAMA study showing that CT screening does not increase survival rates for lung cancer “was the first application of a newly developed computer model which predicted expected deaths from lung cancer, and there are numerous concerns about its validity. The main problem with the study is that it focused on too short a time period to assess the decrease in lung cancer deaths, which starts to be evident after the first five years of screening.”

An October 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that 92% of patients with Stage I lung cancer survived 10 years or longer. “The regimen of screening determines how early the cancer is diagnosed,” Henschke said. “This is critical, as it provides the opportunity for earlier treatment which can be curative.”

—Cat Vasko