Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Many Lung Cancer Tumors May Prove Harmless

Research suggests CT scan screening might lead to needless worry, treatment in these cases


Patz characterized his findings as "one piece of information they were waiting for just to understand the risks and limitations of the trial and of recommending mass screening."

"When we tell patients we're going to do a test, you need to understand the risks and benefits," he said. "This is just part of the equation."

Edelman said some of the over-diagnosis can be attributed to slow-growing tumors. In other cases, however, smokers will not die of cancer because they will succumb first to emphysema, heart disease or the myriad of other major health problems caused by smoking.

"It could be that heavy smokers die of lots of other things before the cancer can kill them," Edelman said.

Patz and Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer, said the results highlight the need for future research to uncover genetic markers that will allow doctors to better sort aggressive cancers from cancers that might not need to be treated.

Brawley added, however, that the presence of over-diagnosis does not change the fact that CT screening can save thousands of lives a year.

Calling the original trial "one of the greatest screening studies ever done," Brawley said the clinical trial had successfully detected two types of lung cancers -- the 80 percent that could not be cured and the 20 percent that could be successfully treated.

"Now we're realizing there's a third kind of cancer -- the kind that doesn't need to be cured but can be cured," Brawley said. "We cure some people who don't need to be cured, but the study clearly shows by treating everyone we cure people who need to be cured."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options