MCLENNAN CO. -- The National Cancer Institute announced results from the first large scale test of screening tools for earlier detection of lung cancer. They found there are 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths in people screened with CT scans than with regular chest x-rays. In McLennan County, there are 117 estimated deaths from lung cancer in 2010 out of 153 new diagnoses.
Doctors at Texas Oncology in Waco say although the findings give hope, lung cancer is different than other cancers, and early detection doesn't always mean more survivors. "Detecting and early lung cancer is not the same as detecting an early breast cancer or an early colon cancer. A lot of people will still die even if they detect the cancer early. "The first thing that came to my mind is I hope that people do not over blow these results and think it's the same thing as a mammogram and colonoscopy," said Dr. Carlos Encarnacion. He says lung cancer can be treated and is preventable most of the time, but the survival rate for lung cancer is one of the lowest.
Insurance does not cover the CT scans as standard of care yet. So, to get the scans, you would have to pay for them yourself. The trial results do show improvement in ways to detect the cancer early in a selected group of patients. Doctors say a healthy lifestyle including exercise, eating healthy and not smoking can decrease one's risks for lung cancer.