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    Simple Saliva Test Could Improve Lung Cancer Detection

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    New and improved scanning devices may help detect lung cancers while they are curable, he says. Studies now under way are evaluating the usefulness of two of these devices -- spiral CT and PET scans. These screening methods have been shown to be more sensitive than X-ray in detecting suspicious lesions in the lungs.

    Fujiki and colleagues' findings may also aid lung cancer prevention trials. The Japanese researchers have studied the cancer prevention properties of green tea for several years, and in this study they found that green tea extract prevented overproduction of the protein in lung cancer cells.

    In an earlier epidemiological study, Fujiki and colleagues suggested that drinking more than 10 small servings of green tea a day (800 milliliters, or 27 ounces) protected against lung, colorectal, liver, and stomach cancers.

    Though attempts to find better screening methods and cancer prevention agents may eventually help reduce lung cancer deaths, Edelman counters that the best way to reduce mortality from the disease is to convince people to stop smoking.

    "You have to remember that at least 85% of lung cancer cases are preventable," he says. "It would be very shortsighted for us as a country to put huge amounts of money into screening at the expense of programs to prevent smoking. We make that point over and over again. But we don't want people to become complacent and think that it is OK to smoke because we will be able to find the cancer early and cure it."

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