Lung cancer screening of all current and former smokers with low-dose CT scanning would result in preventing 12,000 deaths in the United States each year. A study in Cancer reported that, compared with chest x-ray, CT screening would reduce lung cancer mortality by 20%. The total number of potentially avoidable deaths could even be greater. The patients in the study were 55 to 74 years of age and smoked at least one pack a day for 30 years. Even though these patients are at risk for cancer, screening is generally performed by chest x-ray which misses 20% of tumors.
Doctors need to discuss with their patients who are smokers and former smokers about CT screening. The current guidelines for screening need to be updated, because this study shows that many lung cancer deaths can be avoided. Reduction in smoking is the first defense against the disease, but effective screening is important for those who stop because they remain at risk. Primary prevention, screening and updated treatment all play a role in reducing death.
Britcher Leone & Roth understand the importance of an early diagnosis in a patient with cancer. Lung cancer is no different. A delayed diagnosis of cancer can have devastating effects on the patient and family. Besides the pain and suffering from metastatic disease, there are often large economic losses to the family caused by large medical bills and the inability for the affected person to continue working. Only a detailed look at the medical records can determine if there was a delay in diagnosis that caused injury or death that could have been avoided.