It's rare to hear good news associated with lung cancer. However, now a large and reputable study has found that yearly CT Scans can improve the rate of surviving lung cancer by a whopping 20 percent.
It may come as a surprise that the mortality rate of lung cancer is greater than that of "colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined." The New York Times reports that the number of lives saved could be in the tens of thousands. The randomized, placebo-controlled study, began in 2002 and followed 53,000 people who had "at least 30 pack-years — one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years."
X-rays have been used in the past as one way to detect cancerous lung tumors. But the new research is showing that CT scans appear to be more effective in the crucial practice of identifying tumors at an earlier stage in their growth. Additionally, the yearly scans help identify and reduce the mortality rate from other health conditions as well, such as "cardiovascular disease, emphysema and other pulmonary diseases."
Health insurance, however, does not pay for CT Scans for smokers or others at risk of lung cancer, until a tumor is medically suspected. As it stands, patients will have to pay approximately $300 dollars per scan. The good news is that Medicare is considering paying for the scans in the future.
Not everyone is convinced that CT scans will be useful for anyone except possibly high-risk patients. But others have suggested that the data would show even better results if the CT scans had occurred over a longer period of time--possibly up to 80 percent, according to a clinical professor of radiology (the people in the study were scanned only 3 times).
Much that is exciting in health news is based on small but promising studies. It's rare that a study is reported that is not only this large and rigorous, but also showing such a great benefit for cancer patients. If the reported results of the study are accurate, and CT scans were implemented right now, a 20 percent increase in people surviving lung cancer would mean more than 30,000 people each year. A huge number, and an exciting prospect.
Stop Smoking Tip:
Even if you're not ready to quit, you can try smoking outside only, and put an effective damper on the risks to your family of second-hand smoke.
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