Skip to content

    Lung Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Lung Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Overview

    Separate PDQ summaries on Lung Cancer Prevention, Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment, and Levels of Evidence for Cancer Screening and Prevention Studies are also available.

    Evidence of Benefit Associated With Screening

    Recommended Related to Lung Cancer

    Lung Cancer Diagnosis

    Your doctor may suspect lung cancer if a routine physical exam reveals: Swollen lymph nodes above the collarbone Weak breathing Abnormal sounds in the lungs Dullness when the chest is tapped Unequal pupils Droopy eyelids Weakness in one arm Expanded veins in the arms, chest, or neck Swelling of the face Some lung cancers produce abnormally high blood...

    Read the Lung Cancer Diagnosis article > >

    Screening by low-dose helical computed tomography

    Benefits

    There is evidence that screening persons aged 55 to 74 years who have cigarette smoking histories of 30 or more pack-years and who, if they are former smokers, have quit within the last 15 years reduces lung cancer mortality by 20% and all-cause mortality by 6.7%.

    Magnitude of Effect: 20% relative reduction in lung cancer-specific mortality.

    • Study Design: Evidence obtained from a randomized controlled trial.
    • Internal Validity: Good.
    • Consistency: Not applicable-one randomized trial to date.
    • External Validity: Fair.

    Harms

    Based on solid evidence, screening would lead to false-positive tests in approximately one-quarter of those screened. Most abnormalities would be monitored radiographically. However, persons with false-positive screens and overdiagnosed cancers would be exposed to unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures and treatments. Because of comorbidities among the heaviest smokers and those who have smoked for long periods of time, complications associated with invasive diagnostic procedures and therapy may be more frequent in these groups.

    Magnitude of Effect: Positive. Magnitude is a 20% relative reduction in lung cancer-specific mortality and a 6.7% reduction in overall mortality.

    • Study Design: Evidence obtained from a randomized controlled trial.
    • Internal Validity: Good.
    • Consistency: Good.
    • External Validity: Fair.

    Evidence of No Benefit Associated With Screening

    Screening by chest x-ray and/or sputum cytology

    Benefits

    Based on solid evidence, screening with chest x-ray and/or sputum cytology does not reduce mortality from lung cancer in the general population or in ever-smokers.

    Magnitude of Effect: No evidence of effect.

    • Study Design: Randomized controlled trials.
    • Internal Validity: Good.
    • Consistency: Good.
    • External Validity: Good.

    Harms

    False positive exams

    Based on solid evidence, at least 95% of all positive chest x-ray screening exams (but not all) do not result in a lung cancer diagnosis. False-positive exams result in unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures.

    • Study Design: Randomized controlled trials.
    • Internal Validity: Good.
    • Consistency: Good.
    • External Validity: Good.
    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Xray analysis
    Do you know the myths from the facts?
    chest x-ray
    Get to know them.
     
    woman taking pills
    Tips to managing them.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
    SLIDESHOW
    Woman getting ct scan
    Article
     
    Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
    VIDEO
    cancer fighting foods
    Article
     
    Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
    VIDEO
    Pets Improve Your Health
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Vitamin D
    SLIDESHOW
    Lung Cancer Surgery Options
    VIDEO