Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Lung Cancer Screening Technique Could Improve Survival

continued...

While several similar, small trials of this screening tool are now underway, the NIH is considering a national randomized clinical trial -- considered the gold standard for assessing the value and guidelines used in such procedures, says McGuinness.

Other national smoking cessation programs generally get about 6% of smokers to quit, whereas the ELCAP program inspired 20% to give up their habit. "We consider a cessation rate of over 20% as very good," Joann Shellenbach, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society, tells WebMD.

More than 171,000 lung cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year and 158,000 people die from the disease -- a greater death toll than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer combined.

Lung cancer is considered one of the deadliest cancers, largely because it is typically not detected in the early stages, when it is most curable. "There are no symptoms in the early stages," says Shellenbach. "Rarely is it found [in the very early stages]. Usually that's a serendipitous finding when the patient is having surgery for another reason. Occasionally, it might show up on a chest X-ray. And on the rare occasions it does turn up, it can be treated for a cure."

By the time patients develop symptoms -- shortness of breath, coughing, bloody sputum -- the cancer has grown to the size of an orange, or has spread to other organs. "In cancers caught at the later stage, there's a 10% to 14% five-year survival rate, whereas for those caught early, survival moves up to 80%," she says.

In later stages of lung cancer, "There's a lot of discomfort because of the fluid that builds up. People have lot of trouble with it. If you marched school children through places where we treat people for lung cancer, we would have a lot less children smoking," says Shellenbach. "There's the difficulty breathing ... it's like drowning in your own fluid. It affects your life enormously. For decades, there has been a desire to find a screening tool for lung cancer."

Vital Information:

  • A new scanning technique can detect lung cancer while it is still in the early, curable stage.
  • More than one-fifth of patients who view their lung scans actually quit smoking.
  • Researchers are still unsure about which populations should get the lung scans and how often they should be given.
1|2

Today on WebMD

lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
Using GPS to Detect Lung Cancer
VIDEO
mans hand putting out cigarette
Article
 
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
VIDEO
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
 
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
Lung Cancer Surgery Options
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections