By Robert Preidt
MONDAY, July 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A newer form of lung cancer screening may mean fewer deaths from the disease, a new study contends.
Using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) instead of X-rays helped reduce lung cancer deaths in current and former smokers, the study authors said.
"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, and early detection and treatment through screening with low-dose computed tomography has been investigated as a potential means of reducing lung cancer deaths for more than two decades," said study author Paul Pinsky, from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
"This study adds further weight to the notion that CT screening is effective," Pinsky said in a news release from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
In 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) first reported that the risk of lung cancer death in these high-risk patients was 20% lower when screened with LDCT annually for three years, compared with chest X-ray screening.
That trial included more than 53,000 patients across the United States.
The new study -- an extended analysis of patients in the NLST who were followed after the 2011 results were published -- confirms the original findings, the researchers said.
The follow-up study was published online recently in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
The new study also reaffirms findings from another trial, which found that LDCT screening led to a 26% reduction in lung cancer deaths in men and a 39% reduction in women.
The initial NLST study monitored deaths for a median of 6.5 years. The follow-up study extended that to 12.3 years.
The researchers said that the additional six years enabled them to determine that LDCT screening really helped prevent lung cancer deaths, or at least delayed them for more than a decade.
The 2011 study found that 320 patients would have to be screened to prevent one death from lung cancer, while the follow-up study found that 303 patients would have to be screened to prevent one lung cancer death.
The new results support previous research showing that screening patients at high risk for lung cancer can reduce lung cancer deaths.